The St. Matthew Passion (Matthäus-Passion in German ~ BWV 244) is a Passion, a sacred oratorio written by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1727 for solo voices, double choir and double orchestra, with libretto by Picander. It sets the 26th and 27th chapters of the Gospel of Matthew, in the Luther Bible, to music, with interspersed chorales and arias. It is widely regarded as one of the greatest masterpieces of Baroque sacred music.
The St. Matthew Passion is the second of two Passion settings by Bach that have survived in their entirety, the first being the St. John Passion, first performed in 1724. Little is known with certainty about the creation process of the St. Matthew Passion. The available information derives from extant early manuscripts, contemporary publications of the libretto, and circumstantial data, for instance in documents archived by the Town Council of Leipzig.
In the early 1820s, the director of the Berlin Singakademie, Carl Zelter, got hold of a copy of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and rehearsed some of the choral movements in private. By great good fortune, two of his singers were Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn. In April 1829, despite strong opposition from some quarters, the twenty-year-old Mendelssohn, with the help of Zelter and his friend the actor Eduard Devrient, mounted the work’s first modern performance, albeit in an abbreviated form, given to mark what was then thought to be the centenary of its first performance. This Easter-time Berlin presentation was a stunning success and was followed by others. These led directly to a complete reassessment and revival of interest in all of Bach’s music for, baffling as it seems nowadays, Johann Sebastian Bach had fallen into near obscurity since his death nearly 80 years earlier.
Bach’s St. Matthew Passion: A Guide To The Sacred Masterpiece
April 8, 2020
Beautiful music with beautiful voices. One tenor sounds just like a woman. ~Vic
A Guide To Bach’s St. Matthew Passion (Classical Music/BBC Music Magazine/05-26-2021)
Music History Monday: St. Matthew Passion (Robert Greenberg Music/04-11-2022)
Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 (Bach Cantatas Website/2000-2022)
Netherlands Bach Society
Two Hours, 44 Minutes & 31 Seconds
Twenty years ago, today, the #1 film at the box office was The Matrix, a science-fiction action film starring…Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Gloria Foster and Joe Pantoliano. Produced by Joel Silver, it was written and directed by The Wachowskis.
[The movie] depicts a dystopian future in which humanity is unknowingly trapped inside a simulated reality called the Matrix, created by thought-capable machines (artificial beings) to control humans while using their bodies as an energy source. Hacker and computer programmer, Neo, learns this truth and “is drawn into a rebellion against the machines”, which involves other people who have been freed from the Matrix.
The film is an example of the cyberpunk subgenre. The Wachowskis’ approach to action scenes drew upon their admiration for Japanese animation and martial arts films and, the film’s use of fight choreographers and wire fu techniques from Hong Kong action cinema, influenced subsequent Hollywood action film productions. The Matrix is known for popularizing a visual effect known as “bullet time“, in which the heightened perception of certain characters is represented by allowing the action within a shot to progress in slow-motion while the camera’s viewpoint appears to move through the scene at normal speed. The film contains numerous allusions to philosophical and religious ideas, including existentialism, Marxism, feminism, Buddhism, nihilism and postmodernism.
From Roger Ebert:
“The Matrix” is a visually dazzling cyberadventure, full of kinetic excitement but, it retreats to formula just when it’s getting interesting. It’s kind of a letdown when a movie begins by redefining the nature of reality and ends with a shoot-out. We want a leap of the imagination, not one of those obligatory climaxes with automatic weapons fire.
I’ve seen dozens if not hundreds of these exercises in violence, which recycle the same tired ideas: Bad guys fire thousands of rounds but, are unable to hit the good guy. Then, it’s down to the final showdown between good and evil…a martial arts battle in which the good guy gets pounded until he’s almost dead, before he finds the inner will to fight back. Been there, seen that (although rarely done this well).
“The Matrix” did not bore me. It interested me so much, indeed, that I wanted to be challenged even more. I wanted it to follow its material to audacious conclusions, to arrive not simply at victory but, at revelation.
From Darren Aronofsky:
“I walked out of The Matrix with Jared and I was thinking, ‘What kind of science fiction movie can people make now?'” Aronofsky says. “The Wachowskis basically took all the great sci-fi ideas of the 20th century and rolled them into a delicious pop culture sandwich that everyone on the planet devoured. Suddenly Philip K. Dick‘s ideas no longer seemed that fresh. Cyberpunk? Done.”
From M. Night Shyamalan:
[…] Mr. Shyamalan is not much of a cinema historian. Among the directors he admires are Peter Weir, Cameron Crowe, Alfred Hitchcock and the Wachowski Brothers. “Whatever you think of ‘The Matrix,’ every shot is there because of the passion they have! You can see they argued it out!”
♦ For the cell phone conversation scene between Neo and Morpheus in the MetaCortex office, Keanu Reeves actually climbed up the window without a stuntman, which was 34 floors up.
♦ Will Smith was approached to play Neo but, turned down the offer in order to star in Wild Wild West (1999). He later admitted that, at the time, he was “not mature enough as an actor” and that, if given the role, he “would have messed it up”. He had no regrets, saying that “Keanu was brilliant as Neo.”
♦ In an online interview when the film was first released, the Wachowskis revealed that they’d both take the Blue Pill when given Neo’s choice.
Twenty-five years ago, today, according to most accounts, Kurt Cobain committed suicide. His body was discovered on April 8 by Gary Smith, an electrician that was there to install a security system. Seeing Cobain lying inside, Smith initially thought the singer was asleep until he saw blood oozing from his ear. He also found a suicide note with a pen stuck through it inside a flower-pot. A shotgun purchased for Cobain by his friend Dylan Carlson was found resting on Cobain’s chest. Cobain’s death certificate stated that he died as a result of a “contact perforating shotgun wound to the head” and concluded that his death was a suicide.
While it is true that Cobain suffered from stomach pains, drug addiction, clinical depression and bi-polar disorder, there are disputes to the official ruling. Courtney Love‘s own estranged father wrote a book and suggested that his daughter had her husband murdered.
Cobain was described as a “Generation X icon” and “the last real rock star“. He was only 27.
Twenty-seven appears to be a striking number. From The History Channel:
The untimely deaths of famous musicians at age 27 may be coincidence but, it is [a] tragic coincidence. The mythology of the 27 Club gained prominence with the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994 since he died at the same age as iconic rock musicians, including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, when they died in the 1970s. The premature death of Amy Winehouse at age 27 in 2011, again, renewed interest in the age’s apparent curse. This is a list of some of the artists and musicians who died at the far too young age of 27.
Robert Johnson…Blues singer-songwriter-musician (May 8, 1911 – August 16, 1938)
Brian Jones…The Rolling Stones founder (February 28, 1942 – July 3, 1969)
Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson…Canned Heat co-founder (July 4, 1943 – September 3, 1970)
Jimi Hendrix…Rock singer-songwriter-guitarist (November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970)
Janis Joplin…Rock-soul-blues singer-songwriter (January 19, 1943 – October 4, 1970)
Jim Morrison…The Doors co-founder (December 8, 1943 – July 3, 1971)
Ron “Pigpen” McKernan…Grateful Dead founding member (September 8, 1945 – March 8, 1973)
Kurt Cobain (February 20, 1967 – April 5, 1994)
Amy Winehouse…Singer-songwriter (September 14, 1983 – July 23, 2011)
OH, the music we have lost. ~Vic