What is it about Bach’s Passions?
Bach at Passiontide
Music organisations across the land and overseas, in towns, cities, in local churches and on international concert hall stages will be eagerly anticipating their performances of a surviving Passion composed nearly 300 years ago now. The 17th and 18th century Lutheran congregation expected to hear a musical setting of Christ’s Passion and Crucifixion performed in the context of the Liturgy for Good Friday and provided by their Cantor.
Bach composed three Passion settings, all dating from his Leipzig tenure
- Matthäus-Passion BWV 244, dating from 1727, possibly earlier
- Johannes-Passion BWV 245, surviving in four versions, dating from 1724
- Markus-Passion BWV 247, mostly lost, although Picander’s text has survived and there have been various reconstructions made. Performed at Leipzig on Good Friday 1731
A fourth, Lukas-Passion BWV 246, was once attributed to Bach, but is now regarded as apocryphal.
Whether it is for the uplift and joy singing and playing them or for private meditation and contemplation in listening to them, somehow this time of year would not be the same without Bach’s Passions.
Here are some useful websites that will list performances near you this season.