The St. Matthew Passion of Johann Sebastian Bach


The Evangelist Matthew - he tells the story of suffering differently from the other evangelists. This is the very essential difference that one experiences when one dealt deeper with the passages of Johann Sebastian Bach, "to enjoy only the work of Bach".



St. John Passion vs. St. Matthew Passion


Two passions – of six – composed by Bach. How does the St. John Passion differ from the St. Matthew Passion? Actually - and connoisseurs and experts of all levels may once again forbear with me – by nothing. The story: the same. The music: choir and orchestra. This is how easy I am to "Bach over Bach". And even this section of the homepage is exactly the same on the second passion page.


Are you sitting if you understand something? Good. Because it is not that simple. Of course, both passions differ. In three levels. The one excited Kasper like me, which is the absolutely different length. But this is already the case with curious answers. As with all things in life, it matters. It depends on how deeply you want to get in. In the matter, in details – whether you are a professional, an artist, a musician or a Bach fan. Maybe even a particularly sophisticated classic or Bach connoisseur. It is true: the treason, the imprisonment, and the crucifixion of Christ, in both passions, and the fact that one Passion is composed according to the Gospel of John, the other according to that of Matthew.


Level two are then the trivialities, but they are not unspiring. It is the different length of the two passions. And the different cast. As a result, the St. Matthew Passion is by far the most important of the two. Of course, works are different, because otherwise, only the story would be one and the same music single works a different one. And then there is the level three - the coarse and also the subtle differences of the two superworks, which is to explain this is the wrong platform. For she would perhaps inspire a certain circle of fans, she would be superficial for another. So it is up to you: both passages do not differ like the Beatles of Lady Gaga and not like an oboe from a piano. Nor do they like the peasants' apprenticeship from the Toccata to stay near Bach. For those who needed a short answer - superficial, clear, fixed: no difference. For everyone else, you will find the link to Background in Excellence at the end of this page.



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And Yet a Difference: Listen to It Here!


This is what you are accustomed to from these pages: at "Bach über Bach" there is always an overview, then the fun to the subject itself, so better: the information. And often there is also an indication, where there is more on the topic. On this page, especially, you can listen to the introduction to the St. Matthew Passion, and thus, of course, also learn that there is such a thing, secondly, how it sounds, and thirdly, that you can buy it. So, just listen in once. And so on this homepage there is actually a substantial difference between the St. Matthew Passion and the St. John Passion: to the former there is a work introduction – secondly: ... not.


This CD is available from the trusted dealer. 56 minutes of fantastic entertainment with many details, exciting and highly professional spoken and with many musical sequences from the St. Matthew Passion. However – so sorry – i9t's in German only, so you have to have at least a grandma with German roots or a good student in German during school time.



St. John, St. Mark, St. Matthew


Two times two of the evangelists: John, Peter, Markus Paulus. Matthew was already at the top.


The necrologue, the obituary, the first short biography on Johann Sebastian Bach, was written two days after Bach's death, but became known to a broader public only four years later. From him, many, many information about the Thomaskantor has been incorporated into the biographies that appear in 250 years. And it is only from this necrologue that we know today that there must have been a total of six passages. The St. Matthew Passion is, of course, the most widely known, which of course also results from the fact that the St. Mark Passion is considered to be lost, and thus only two exist: the St. John Passion and the St. Matthew Passion.



Still some work ...


Johann Sebastian Bach composed the St. Matthew Passion two years after the St. John Passion. The list of Bach's works lists them with the number 244. A passion is about the suffering and the death of Jesus Christ. It is the story of suffering. The first performance took place on Good Friday, 11th April, 1727, in the Leipzig Thomaskirche, and although it is today the greatest musical work of Christendom, it was not even mentioned in the next day's daily newspaper. It was then – just "another work" of Thomaskantor Bach. This work of art lasts far more than three hours, to which also the Leipzig poet, who was known as Picander, has contributed. With the use of two orchestras and two choirs, Bach also created his most demanding work - and he was certainly delighted that he had been given the "City Council of Leipzig", "... that it will not be too long Should ... " – and with well over three hours it certainly was not too long. For with three hours and twenty minutes that was certainly too long for the honorable gentlemen.


The history of the most important musical work of Christendom: the history of the suffering of Jesus Christ.


After Bach's death, the St. Matthew Passion was not performed for a long time. Not for many years, but decades. Not a few decades, but to the day exactly round 80 years (... please note my wording, the "round" refers to the 80, the exact to the day, because it was again a Good Friday). It was the Good Friday of 1829. Of course, musicians of class knew Bach's St. Matthew Passion, but the population - she had no way to hear the St. Matthew Passion and the gramophone was only there since 1887 and music for it, especially such a – for a long time. Felix Mendelsohn Bartholdy, himself composer and conductor, was himself a very great one of music, and to our lucky he was also Bach enthusiast – he reduced the St. Matthew Passion to about half, because he felt that a longer performance would overwhelm the audience. This first demonstration was the foundation stone that made Bach more and more known over the course of the many decades that followed. Until finally in 2011 the New York Times, Johann Sebastian Bach, is the greatest composer of all time. And in this context the St. Matthew Passion is surely one of Bach's greatest works in several respects. Now, to my promise, much more about the St. Matthew Passion, you can read and read at Wikipedia, in one of the rare versions of an excellent article, that is, an award-winning article. To the authors of the Wikipedia of this page a congratulation – and because I can recommend it to my visitors of this website only warmly – a thank you. Was there anything else? Yes absolutely. You certainly did not take the title so seriously. It seems to me, nevertheless, that I take with it the "official" enthusiasm of Leipzig on the scoop.


This is the gray passion of Max Holbein the Elder – in contrast to the musician of Johann Sebastian Bach.



We Owe Everything to Him!


Felix ... Thank you!


In fact, it is because we owe Bach's work to Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. It was he who, inspired by Bach's music, awakened the work of the Eisenach composer after a three-third century from a sleeping beauty, and thus began the actual triumph of Bach around the world. While Bach was already a highly respected musician at the time, this celebrity was confined to a relatively small circle of people and to a tiny circle of musicians. Certainly, he was known far beyond the borders of Thuringia, or Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. Bach has also traveled and so it is quite certain that with his music he was not a regional or even local size. But the very fact that his four sons surpassed him in fame when they were able to compare fame with one another shows the framework in which the degree of recognition took place. The choice of a new Thomaskantor already at a time when Bach was still alive and hoping for recovery was a first indication of the soon following dramatic oblivion that had begun around Bach's work and his person. The funeral was another sign of how officially he was denied recognition. He was buried and forgotten, his work was lost in the trivialities of the daily worries of his sons and his wife. It was used against food and firewood, clothes and money for rent.



A 100 year old Sleeping Beauty Nap


A preserved original document: Johann Sebastian Bach composed the St. Matthew Passion in black and red ink.


What followed then were 75 years, in which none of his works were heard or performed. Certainly, musicians of every era knew about him, were aware of the uniqueness of his music, but Bach had simply forgotten the broad mass of the population no matter what social class. Musical preferences changed just after Bach's epoch, which also contributed to the rejection of the Leipzig councils, which now had to do with a Thomaskantor, who was no longer a brook, not even his inspiration, inconvenience and his stubborn way of creating musical miracles Had all contributed to this musical winter sleep. Finally, Mendelssohn Bartholdy was the first to perform the St. Matthew Passion exactly one hundred years later, exactly one hundred years later, on a Good Friday. So they took it for many, many years. Later, about 200 years later, it was found that it was exactly 102 years because the Bach Science found that it was more likely that this Passion was performed for the first time in 1727, and not in 1729.


The first part of the St. Matthew Passion and the manuscript of Thomaskantor Johann Sebastian Bach.


This premiere, which was immediately presented again because it was so, had been shortened by Mendelssohn to two hours, because he did not want to overwhelm the audience at the beginning of a new Bach era. It took place XX years after Bach's death. And with this first performance, Bach's worldwide fame began, which was to be surpassed many times during his lifetime. It takes its way over the old world to the New World, America, where Bach arrived only in the course of the XXX century. A whole book XXX depicts the development of the love of people in the United States to Bach and the music on Johann Sebastian Bach.


The St. Matthew Passion, the most famous musical work of Christendom, the incredible performance of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and finally our modern age, first with records, later with CDs and DVDs, and finally the Internet with the most recent media YouTube within the World Wide Web Further spread possible.


In addition to Mendelssohn's musical performance, we owe to him that today we can enjoy Bach at all. Therefore, honor, to whom honor is due – another picture of the composer.



Now you want to know?


Now your interest is aroused and you want to know more about the St. Matthew Passion, about Bach's work on it, the details and the specifics? And beyond this side, far beyond it. And also know more, than there is in the factory introduction, which you may have already ordered. There is a place on the Internet where an expertise has received an award. It is quite accurate, the official designation "excellent article" and marked with a special very rare star. You guessed it, and yes – it's once again, Wikipedia. And here you come to this brilliant, page-long and superbly detailed description directly. Have fun with the reading, then the first complete listening - and this is nothing compared to a performance on Good Friday by one of the many brilliant orchestras distributed all over the world, Bach's works, perform and inspire an audience.


The St. Thomas Church in Leipzig. Behind the tree you'll find the New Bach Memorial. 10 stepps farther is the Old Bach Monument located.


By far the most impressing Bach monument all over the world.


The Johann Sebastian Bach graveyard section in front of the Lord's table.


Thank you to the ST. Thomas Church administration for allowing me behind the rope. As I am a perfectionist I bought 5 bouquets of flowers just for the case there should be only withered flowers around. So I removed some for the photo - and put it back later.


Place of the premiere of the St. Matthew Passion almost 300 years ago: the Thomaskirche in Leipzig.



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