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