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Bach Compendium
Work Group D: Passions and Oratorios

Group Description

Work Group D comprises in chronological order the large-scale vocal works designated by Bach as "Passion" or "Oratorio"; in addition, it contains Bach's original contributions to similar works by other composers.

Passions

According to the available evidence concerning his estate (Nekrolog, Dok III, No. 666; Bach Reader, p.221), Bach is reported to have written "five Passions, of which one is for double chorus." Only three works from the Leipzig period have been preserved either in whole (music and text) or in part (text only); two Passions must be considered lost. It remains questionable whether a Weimar Passion - verifiable only indirectly (→ D 1) - and the St. Luke Passion (→ D 6) - ascribed to Bach erroneously perhaps as early as soon after his death - can be considered to represent the fourth and fifth Passions, respectively. In both Weimar and Leipzig, Bach performed - aside from his own works - Passions by other composers, including Keiser, Handel, and Telemann (→ Work Group X), occasionally with interpolations of his own (→ D 5, D 6).

In Leipzig, the "musicirte Passion" - introduced into the city's main churches in 1721 by Johann Kuhnau - was performed during the Vespers service on Good Friday, the liturgy of which had been specifically designed to accommodate this musical event. The Passion was divided in two parts, the first of which was presented before the sermon, the second after it. Performances alternated yearly between the St. Nicholas and St. Thomas Churches (with the exception of 1733, when there was no performance, due to a period of state mourning).

Oratorios

According to the work list in the obituary (Dok III, No. 666; Bach Reader, p.221), Bach wrote "many oratorios, Masses, Magnificats ...". Yet only three oratorios, all from the Leipzig period, have survived; there is no evidence oflost oratorios. Bach's use of the term "oratorio" for the major musical work of a feast day cannot be documented before the mid-l730's; in the Easter music from 1725 (D 8a), the title "oratorio" was added later.

One similarity between Bach's Passions and his oratorios is their incorporation of gospel text with biblical figures (soliloquentes). The Easter Oratorio, however, dispenses with the role of the Evangelist and thus with all direct quotations of biblical text. The Christmas Oratorio represents a special case, in that its six parts are conceived as a unified whole, to be performed on six consecutive feast days (from Christmas Day to Epiphany) and tailored for the specific circumstances of the calendar at the turn of the year 1734/35.

 

Synopsis - List by Group and BC Number - Work Group D

BC

BWV

BGA

NBA

Year

Title / Comments

         

Passions

[D 1]

-

-

   

Weimarer Passion - Weimar Passion (text & music lost) → D 2b, D 3b

D 2a

[245]

XII/1

II/4

1724

Johannes-Passion - St. John Passion (1st version, incomplete)

D 2b

[245]

XII/1

II/4

1725

Johannes-Passion - St. John Passion (2nd version) → D 1, D 3b

D 2c

[245]

XII/1

II/4

c1730

Johannes-Passion - St. John Passion (3rd version, incomplete)

D 2d

245

XII/1

II/4

Late 1740's

Johannes-Passion - St. John Passion (4th version)

D 2e

245

XII/1

II/4

 

Johannes-Passion - St. John Passion (incomp-lete revision)

D 3a

244

IV/1

II/5

1729

Matthäus-Passion - St. Matthew Passion (earlier version) → B 22

D 3a

244

IV/1

II/5

Late 1740's

Matthäus-Passion - St. Matthew Passion (earlier version) → D 1, B 2b

[D 4]

247

   

1731

Markus-Passion - St. Mark Passion (music lost) → G 34

D 5

-

     

Contributions to Reinhard Keiser's Markus-Passion - St. Mark Passion → Work Group X

D 6

246

XLV/2

II/9
Anh II 30

 

Contributions to anonimous Lukas-Passion - St. Luke Passion → Work Group X

         

Addendum

D 10

1088

     

Single movement from Passion-Pasticcio after Carl Heinrich Graun → Work Group X

           
         

Oratorios

D 7I-VI

248/I-VI

V/2

II/6

1734-1735

Weihnachts-Oratorium - Christmas Oratorio
Part I: Christmas Day → G 18, G 19
Part II: 2nd Day of Christmas → G 18, G 19
Part III: 3rd Day of Christmas → G 18, G 19
Part IV: New Year's Day → G 18
Part V: Sunday after New Year's Day → G 21
Part VI: Epiphany → A 190, G 30

D 8a

[249]

XXI/3

II/7

1725

Oster-Oratorium - Easter Oratorio (earlier version) → G 2, G 28

D 8b

249

XXI/3

II/7

 

Oster-Oratorium - Easter Oratorio (later version)

D 9

11

II

II/8

1735

Himmelfahrts-Oratorium - Ascension Oratorio → G 39, G 42, E 1IV

--

Source: Volume 1, Part 3: Vocal Works III (contains the works of groups B, C and D),
Leipzig 1988, ISBN 3-369-00033-4 or Frankfurt / M. 1988, ISBN 3-876-26083-3, pp 979, 982
Prepared by Aryeh Oron & David O. Berger [Concordia Seminary Library, St. Louis, MO, USA] (September 2009)

References: Main Page | Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Other Vocal BWV 225-249 | Chorales BWV 250-300 | Chorales BWV 301-350 | Chorales BWV 351-400 | Chorales BWV 401-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-524 | Vocal Works BWV Anh | BGA | NBA | BC: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | Sources
Discussions of BWV Numbering System: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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Last update: ýSeptember 19, 2009 ý16:32:15