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The Passion According to J.S. Bach
- Course Dates: Thu 5 March 2015, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Bach’s revised 1736 score of the St Matthew Passion begins: Passionis D.N.J.C. secundum Matthaum – The Passion of O(ur) L(ord) J(esus) C(hrist) according to Matthew.
Those attending a performance of the St John Passion or St Matthew Passion, however, may well feel that what they are hearing is ‘the Passion according to Bach.’ As an interpreter of the Passion, Bach brings profound insights to a narrative we thought we knew, and through his music enables us to engage with it in new, often counter-intuitive, ways.
We will focus first on Bach’s St John Passion, the more concise and overtly dramatic of the two and, arguably, the more accessible to audiences today. Our attention will then turn to the St Matthew Passion, with its greater opportunities for reflection and personal application through extended use of solo accompanied recitatives and arias. This study day aims to corroborate Professor John Butt’s view that the results of listening to this music “for many listeners at least, seem to be utterly unexpected and transformative.”