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sábado, abril 11, 2009

About the Johannes Passion - J.S.Bach

The Johannes Passion (English: St John Passion) is a musical composition by Johann Sebastian Bach.[1] During the first winter that Bach worked at Leipzig he composed the St. John Passion. He wrote it for the Good Friday vespers of 1724. [2]

Originally the St. John Passion was meant to be performed for the first time in the St Thomas church in Leipzig, but due to a last-minute change by a music council, the St John Passion was first performed in 1724 in the St Nicholas Church.[3] Bach quickly agreed to have the concert at St Thomas church, “but pointed out that the booklet was already printed, that there was no room available and that the harpsichord needed some repair, all of which, however, could be attended to at little cost; but he requested that a little additional room be provided in the choir loft of St Nicholas' Church, where he planned to place the musicians needed to perform the music. He also asked that the harpsichord be repaired.”[4] The council agreed and sent a flyer announcing the new location to all the people around Leipzig. Then they made the necessary arrangements regarding the harpsichord and the space that was needed for the choir.[4]

The St. John Passion is presented in many ways. It is constructed out of dramatically presented recitatives, chorales, arioso and aria movements, a few combinations of these forms, and choruses.[5] The St Matthew Passion is usually more familiar to people because Mendelssohn’s 1829 performance of it marked the beginning of much of the public discovery of J.S. Bach.[6] It is longer than the St. John Passion, and researchers have discovered that Bach revised the latter work several times before producing a final version in the 1740s.[7] Alternate numbers that Bach introduced in 1725 but later removed can be found in the appendix to scores of the work, such as that of the Neue Bach Ausgabe (and heard in the recording by Emmanuel Music directed by Craig Smith, cited below).[8]

While writing the St. John Passion, Bach had every intention of retaining the congregational spirit of the worship service.[9] The text for the body of the work is taken from the Gospel of John chapters 18 and 19.[10] To augment these chapters that are summarized in the music, Bach used an elaborate body of commentary consisting of hymns that were often called chorales and arias.[11] He used Martin Luther's translation of the Bible with only slight modifications.[12]

Bach proved that the sacred opera as a musical genre did not have to become shallow in liturgical use by remaining loyal to the cantus firmus and the scriptural word.[10] He did not want anyone to think of the Passion as just a lesser sacred concert.[10] The text for the opening prayer Herr, unser Herrscher, dessen Ruhm as well as the arias, chorales and the penultimate chorus Ruht wohl, ihr heiligen Gebeine come from various other sources.[13] The first part of the score, which makes up about one-third of the entire piece, dramatically takes us through Peter’s walk and his betrayal of Jesus.[14] It is interesting to note also that the two recitative passages, dealing with Peter crying after his betrayal and the temple veil ripping during the crucifixion, do not appear in the Gospel of John, but of Matthew.[15] In the "Passion", one hears Peter deny Jesus three times, and at the third time, John tells us that the cock crew immediately. The "St. John Passion" is by far the most extravagant in line and harmony.[16]

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