About the Bach’s St John Passion: An Exploration for the 300th Anniversary course
It is 300 years since the first performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s St John Passion. When Bach unveiled his St John Passion at Good Friday Vespers on April 7, 1724, it was a radical departure from what the Leipzig congregations had known. The version we tend to hear today is different from that first performance, in that Bach revised the St John Passion several times, the last of which was in 1749, the year before his death. As John Butt writes, Bach ‘never lost his interest in this Passion, a work of restless beauty that never quite divulges all its secrets’. The tercentenary of the St John Passion’s first performance offers a good opportunity to explore afresh this dramatic, tense and sometimes under-appreciated Passion setting.
By the end of the day, participants may expect to have a deeper understanding of the genesis of Bach St John Passion, from the premiere on Good Friday 1724 through the various revisions Bach undertook in his lifetime. For participants who are likely to be more familiar with the later St Matthew Passion, this day will give an opportunity to focus on the drama of the St John Passion, and by delving into the ways Bach organises his material, to emerge with a deepened understanding and appreciation of Bach’s genius as revealed in this work.
About the Tutor
Charles Stewart is a vicar and former professional musician.