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Markus-Passion BWV 247
General Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of April 1, 2012

William Hoffman wrote (March 31, 2012):
Markus-Passion, BWV 247: Introduction

Following the creation of two substantial Passion oratorio liturgical settings of the gospels of John, BWV 245, and Matthew, BWV 244, in the 1720s in Leipzig, Johann Sebastian Bach produced a taut 90-minute single-chorus setting of the <St. Mark Passion>, BWV 247, for the annual Good Friday Vesper Services at St. Thomas Church in 1731. While this "lost" work is still being restored, the findings show that it played a major role in Bach's creativity involving a "well-ordered church music."

In and of itself, Bach's last original Passion is a "parody" work that uses 16 familiar Passion and non-Passion chorales as its core music, in contrast to the dramatic character of the two previous settings, with their operatic arias and ariosi as well as theatrical dialogues with chorus and troped chorales. Above all, Bach's treatment is faithful to Mark's initial, essential, concise Gospel account of Jesus Christ's Passion, suffering, and death, with it pietistic emphasis on directness, brevity and simplicity. In contrast to the palindrome-structure scenes prevalent in the large Passions, this work simply alternates hymns and an occasional aria with hymns, similar to the basic structure of Revelation, the final chapter in the New Testament.

"Mark's Gospel has been described as the `Passion Gospel' because from the third chapter onward its events lead inexorably to Christ's suffering and death. Mark's account has little commentary and subplots, juxtaposes few scenes, and has little crowd participation, which would provide more dramatic emphasis. It portrays Christ in a somewhat dark and depressing manner as not being understood. Mark's story, possibly written for the Church in Rome, is a message of salvation wrought from the scandalous death of a man betrayed by his own people."1

In response, Bach, his poet Picander, and his pastor Christian Weiss Sr., who preached the sermon at the Passion Vesper Service, probably together produced a work suffused with didactic and reflective Lutheran hymns inserted at key moments in the narrative, with only a sprinkling of commentary arias (eight in the 1731 version and two more in a 1744 reperformance). The work is framed with poignant, vibrant opening and closing choruses - madrigalian movements mostly drawn from Bach's <Funeral Ode,> BWV 198, of 1727.

The template for musical treatment was Bach's monumental, double-ensemble <St. Matthew Passion> completed in 1729, also with a Picander libretto. The later-written Matthew gospel narrative of the Passion is an expansion with subplots of Mark's basic story. The borrowed <Funeral Ode> core madrigalesque music is set in an antique Italianate style using an orchestra of paired flutes, oboes d'amore, violas da gamba, and lutes as supported by strings and continuo, infused with solemn dance-style music of a pastorale-gigue flavor.

In the larger context, the <St. Mark Passion> is a watershed work in Bach's career and calling. It completed his tetralogy of the four Gospel settings of the Passion story, with the apocryphal <St. Luke Passion>, BWV 246, presented in succession between 1728 and 1732. It advanced Bach's calling and commenced the summation of his vocal music art. Through new-text underlay Bach in the 1730s used established music to create the Christological cycles of feast day oratorios of Christmas, Easter, Ascension, and (possibly) Pentecost; compiled the chorale collections of hymns and sacred songs; completed the organ chorale prelude collections for liturgical, biblical, and teaching application; and finally began creating a Great Catholic Missa Tota in B Minor, BWV 232, as well as separate settings of the five Mass parts - Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei.

At the same time, Bach's annual Passion production, having completed the Gospel cycle, turned to the works of his colleagues. These involve the poetic oratorio Passion of Gottfried Heinrich Stözel in 1734, the Brockes Passion settings of Telemann (?1739) and Handel (1746), and two Passion "pasticcios," one of the Keiser Passion with Handel Passion arias (1747 or 1748) and the other, "Passion Pasticcio after Carl Heinrich Graun" Passion cantatas, including some Bach music (BCW discussion, Mar 31, 2013, BWV1088, Passions-Pasticcio, Good Friday). Further, these are interspersed with documented reperformances in the 1740s, with minor changes, of at least three of Matthew (1736, c.1742, 1743-46), perhaps two of John (1749,?1750), and one each of Luke (1745) and Mark (1744).

Here are some of the key available sources for Bach's <St. Mark Passion:

BCW BWV 247 Template:, with 22 complete "Recordings" in Aryeh Oron's updated discography, and:
Text English Translation:, © Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose (found in the Carus Recording, BCW Recordings No. 22).

General Discussions - Part 1:

Bach's Passion Calendar: Bachdiskography,;

<St. Mark Passion> Movements (1731, 1744 versions): Bachdiskograophy,

1<Narrative Parody in Bach's "St. Mark Passion>, William Hoffman, Master of Music Thesis 2000 (p. 41): BCW,
Quicker access to BCW:

Summary of Chorales

An eclectic blend of traditional Passion as well as popular non-Passion hymns, the 16 chorale texts published in Picander's poetry in 1732 and printed in the 1744 St. Thomas Church libretto text book are found at strategic places in the <St. Mark Passion>, eight in each of the two parts. They are located in virtually the same places in the comparable narrative of the more extensive <St. Matthew Passion> where Bach inserted both chorales and aria-ariosi combinations. Here are the chorales (the numbering is, first, the original Schmieder Catalog (BWV) numbering of all movements and the second numbering following in parenthesis is from the Neue Bach Ausgabe (NBA) Kritische Berichte (Critical Commentary) II/5 (BWV 244 and 247; 1974: 248-67) of Alfred Dürr)

BWV(NBA) (Source), Title (Verse, chorale text/associated melody)

7 (3) (BWV 178). Sie stellen uns (V. 4, Wo Gott, der Herr/Ach lieben Christen)
11 (5) (SMP). Mir hat die Welt (V5. In dich hab ich gehoffet/Da Jesu am dem Kreutze stund)
20 (7) (SJP). Ich, Ich und meine Sünde (V. 4, O Welt, sieh' hier dein Leben)
30 (11) (BWV 20, 60). Wach auf, o Mensch (V. 13, O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort)
41 (13) (CPEB). Betrübtes Herz, sei wohlgemut (V.1, melody Wenn mein Stündlein)
44 (15) (SJP). Machs mit mir Gott nach deiner Gut
56 (21) (SJP 20, 30, 60). Jesu, ohne Mißetat (V. 8, Jesu, Leiden, Pein und Tod; SJP)
58 (23) (SMP). Ich will hier bei dir stehen (melody O Haupt voll Blut und wunden)
63 (26) (BWV 178). Was Menschenkraft (V. 2, Wo Gott der Herr/Ach lieben Christen)
67 (28) (SMP). Befiehl du deine Wege (V. 1, Befiehl du deine Wege|O Haupt voll Blut,/mel. Herzlich tut)
77 (30) (SMP). Du edles angesichte (V. 2, Befiehl du deine Wege|O Haupt voll Blut, Herzlich tut)
89 (32) (CPEB). Herr, ich habe Mißgehandelt
110 (36). Man hat dich sehr (V. 4, Jesu, meines Lebens Leben)
112 (38) (BWV 80). Das Wort sie sollen (V. 4, Ein feste Burg ist Gott)
120 (41) (CPEB). Keinen hat Gott verlassen
130 (44) (CPEB). O Jesu du, mein Hilf (V. 8, O Traurigkeit, o Herzeleid)

The first analysis of Bach's chorales in the <St. Mark Passion> was done by Charles Sanford Terry in <Bach, the Passions> (London: Oxford University Press, 1926, 2:68-74). Terry found that of the 16 hymn texts, 11 were harmonized in other Bach works: four in the <St. Matthew Passion> (SMP), three in the <St. John Passion>, two in Cantata BWV 178, one in Cantata 80; and one in Cantatas BWV 20 and 60. Three untexted settings of the associated chorale melody are found in the C.P.E. Bach 1784-87 published chorale collection (harmonization's only, without texts). Terry and succeeding scholars could not until 1981 find any musical sources for two extant chorale texts: Nos. 56(21) and 110(36).

Besides the identifiable chorale melodies, Bach scholars have been able to find the same stanzas of nine hymn texts harmonized in other Bach settings: four in the <St. Matthew Passion>, one in the <St. John Passion>, two in Cantata 178, and one each in Cantatas 80 and 156.

The <St. Mark Passion> repeats hymns found in the other two Passions, in different places in the drama with different, appropriate commentary stanzas, as well as introducing popular, eclectic chorales. As in the <St. Matthew Passion>, there are multiple (three) settings of the "Passion Chorale" Hans Leoi Hassler 1613 melody, Herlich tut, mich verlangen" (Heartily do I desire), known as "O Sacred Head Now Wounded," Nos. 58(23), 67(28) and 77(30). "Herzlich tut" is listed in Bach's <Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch> (NLGB) of 1682 as No. 329 under the <omnes tempore> heading "Death and Dying. The same melody is used in the Paul Gerhardt c1650 popular texts, "O Haupt voll Blut und wunden" and "Befiehl du deine Wege," neither listed in the NLGB.

Another well-known Passion chorale in the <St. Mark Passion>, No. 56(21), uses Stanza 8 of the popular 34-stanza Paul Stockman 1633 Lenten hymn, "Jesu, Leiden, Pein und Tod" (Jesus, Suffering, Pain and Death. It is in the NLGB as No. 77, under the Passion heading, "Jesus' Suffering & Death. Bach set the hymn several more times, including three stanzas in his "Christus Victor" <St. John Passion>. Where "O Sacred Head Now Wounded" is the signature chorale in the <St. Matthew Passion> with five settings and three in the <St. Mark Passion>, "Jesu, Leiden, Pein und Tod" is the signature chorale in the <St. John Passion> with settings of three stanzas.

Johann Rist's 1641 Good Friday Vesper hymn, "O Traurigkeit, O Herzeleid" (O Mourning, O Heart Song; NLGB Passion hymn No. 73) is the closing chorale, No. 130(44).

Four more contemporary, popular Passion chorales used in the <St. Mark Passion> are not found in the NLGB:

1. Gerhardt's 1647 text, "O Welt, sieh' hier dein Leben (O World, Behold Here Thy Life), as No. 20(7), to the Heinrich Isaac 1490 melody, "O Welt, ich muss dich lassen" (O World, I Must Thee Leave), which also is found in the <St. John Passion>;

2. Johann Hermann Schein's 1628 No. 44(15), "Machs mit mir Gott, nach deiner Gut" (Do With me, God, According to Thy Goodness"), as No. 44(15);

3. Johann Franck's 1646/9 text, "Herr, ich habe Mißgehandelt" (Lord, I Have Misbehaved) to the Johann Cruger melody of the same name, as No. 89(32), and not found elsewhere in Bach's music (Cruger also is associated with melodies in chorales 30(11) and 120 (40); and

4. Ernst Homberg's 1659 "Jesus meines Lebens Leben" (Jesus, my Life's Life), as No. 110(36).

Seven non-Passion <omnes tempore> chorales in the <St. Mark Passion> involve the following: Martin Luther's Reformation call, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," NLGB No. 255, setting of Psalm 46 under "Christian Life," as No. 112(38); Rist's "O Eternity, Thou Thunder-Word," in NLGB No. 394, "Resurrection & Eternal Life," as No. 30(11); two settings of Justus Jonas' Psalm 124 hymn, "If God the Lord Not With Us Stay," NKGB No. 326, Death and Dying, Nos. 7(3) and 63(26); Andreas Krtizelman's "Troubled Heart by Cheerful," NKGB No. 330, "Word of God & Christian Church," as No. 41(13); and two hymns not found elsewhere in Bach's music; Adam Reusner's 1533 "In Thee Have I Hoped, Lord" NLGB No. 254, Psalm 31 under "Christian Life and Hope" to the Seth Calvisius 1581 melody; and the anonymous text, "No One Has God Forsaken," NLGB No. 292, "Persecution, Tribulation, & Challenges, No. 120(40), using another Cruger melody and the other chorale not found elsewhere in Bach's music. Schein and Calvisius were Bach predecessors as Leipzig cantors.

In contrast, the other two Bach Passions of John and Matthew have 21 different hymns involving only three non-Passion chorales: Luther's Lord's Prayer (Vater unser in Himmelreich), the verse petition "Thy Will Be Done," in the <St. John Passion>, and in the <St. Matthew Passion>, "Was mein Gott will" ("What My God Wills) and "Werde munter, mein gemüte," popularly known today as "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring."

Chorale Sources

Originally, Bach scholars assumed that all 16 chorales in the <St. Mark Passion> were newly composed and could be found in the C.P.E. Bach collection of 371 chorales published between 1784 and 1787. They are so-called free-standing four-part plain chorales, not found in the vocal works, published as BWV 253-438, and with multiple settings of eight chorales with associated tests found in the <St. Mark Passion>.

A secondary source confirmed in 1981, is a collection of 149 chorales compiled by Bach student Johann Ludwig Dietel in 1735 from the original manuscripts of Bach's vocal works, including four in order from the original 1731 <St. Mark Passion>. Scholars Andreas Glöckner and Hans-Joachim Schuze determined that Dietel directly transcribed four chorales in order from Bach's <St. Mark Passion> manuscript: Nos. 63(26), 67(28), 89(32), and 112(38), and possibly five others, Nos. 7(3), 11(5)=BWV 1089, 30(11), 58(23), and 110(36).

Bach scholars are beginning to find consensus on the probable sources of the chorales used in Bach's <St. Mark Passion." This is based on the practice that Bach students, son C.P.E. Bach, and other contemporary sources had studied, collected, and transcribed through direct access to the completed chorales as found in Bach's manuscripts of the vocal works. There are two current source-critical studies of the chorales in the <St. Mark Passion>: Dr. Andreas Bomba at the Bach Akademie Stuttgart, who oversaw the eight-volume 1999 Hänssler "Complete Bach Collection," of Books of Chorales Settings," Vols. 78-85, and Glöckner's 2004 updated and expanded Carus edition of the original Diethard Hellmann 1964 published Hänssler edition, containing the four chorales [Nos. 7(3), 44(15), 112(38)], based on the Dietel fundings, that Hellmann had omitted.

The Hänssler Passion Chorale Volume 79 of free-standing chorales is a recording of 15 of the 16 "Chorales of the St. Mark Passion" as well as 29 other unattached, miscellaneous Passion chorales. Omitted is No. 56(21), "Jesu, ohne Mißetat," since Bach scholars, beginning with Terry, have been unable to identify a free-standing Bach chorale harmonization of the associated melody, "Jesu Kreuz, Leiden und Pein" (Jesus Cross, Suffering and Pain), that Bach set three times as the signature chorale in his <St. John Passion> of 1724. In a process of reverse parody, the Hänssler recording uses 14 free-standing chorales in the BWV published collection as set to the appropriate Picander published text, as well as one chorale, No. 11(5), not found in the C.P.E. Bach collection.

Glöckner, who has continued to research the <St. Mark Passion>, followed Hellmann's original choice for "Jesu, ohne Mißetat." They use the Lenten chorale, "Jesu, der du selbsten wohl" (Jesus, Thou Who Thyself Well; Michael Babzien 1655 text), BWV 355, Bach set to the Melchior Vulpius 1609 melody, "Jesu Kreuz, Leiden und Pein" (Jesus Cross, Suffering and Pain), the melody associated with Paul Stockman's 34-stanza 1633 Lenten Hymn, "Jesu Leiden, Pein und Tod).

Interestingly, Hellmann in 1964 borrowed a chorale setting from the <St. Matthew Passion> for <St. Mark Passion> movement No. 11(7 No. 77(3), "Du edles Angesichte." Glöckner chose a setting found in the Dietel collection involving the 1734 <Christmas Oratorio>, BWV 248/46, with the associated melody," Da Jesu am dem Kreutze stund." There are various Passion influences in the <Christmas Oratorio, including three settings of the "Passion Chorale," "O Sacred head Now Wounded," as well as its three turbae choruses possibly a reverse parody from the 1731 <St. Mark Passion>.

Other recently accepted <omnes tempore> chorales as later BWV additions ((Hänssler Vols. 82-85 and Teldec Vol. 7) are:
Chorale Denket doch, ihr Menschenkinder, BWV 1122 (Dying, Death, Eternity)
Chorale Wo Gott zum Haus gibt nicht sein Gunst, BWV 1123 (Psalm 127)
Chorale Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 1124 (Christian Life & Hope)
Chorale O Gott, du frommer Gott, BWV 1125 (Patience & Serenity)
Chorale Lobet Gott, unsern Herren, BWV 1126 (Psalm 51)

Importance of Chorales in Passions

Bach's extensive use of chorales in the <St. Mark Passion> in 1731 reflected both a current trend among composers of the German Passion settings to utilize more hymns as well as Bach's exploration of chorales as a key ingredient in his compositions within a well-order church music in all its facets.

German Passions began with limited use of chorales in both the poetic oratorio Passion and the liturgical-biblical Passion oratorio developed in Hamburg at the beginning of the 18th century. About 1710, as both Passion musical treatments found creative expression through the use of elaborate poetic texts such as the Brockes Passion, two distinct forms emerged: the Brockes-type paraphrase treatment with only a handful of appropriate chorales, and church biblical accounts interspersed with numerous chorales and identified by the cities where they were performed annually. In 1724, Bach used passages from the Brockes Passion text for five arias in his <St. John Passion> oratorio.

There are various examples of the Gospel Passion type Bach created. Between 1704 and 1720, Georg Böhm (1661-1733) of Lüneberg composed some of the earliest modern liturgical oratorio Passions, often vested with many chorales. There are the prototype of the Kuhnau St. Mark Passion in Leipzig in 1721 with 20 chorales but few arias and the Bach apocryphal St. Luke Passion of 1730 with 32 hymns. Others are the Rudolstadt Passion, 1729 (28 chorales); Gera Passion, nd (25 chorales); Gotha St. Matthew Passion, 1707 (19); Schleiz Passion, 1729 (27 chorales); and Weißenfels Passion, 1733 (33), according to Spitta JSB2:510f. In these settings, no composer is listed and the lyrics involve hymns as well as Litany and Te Deum passages. Thus Bach in his treatment of the Marcan Passion account in 1731 returned to the extensive use of chorales with few arias, as found in the Kuhnau <St. Mark Passion> and the apocryphal <St. Luke Passion>

In Leipzig for the annual Good Friday Vesper Service showcasing the liturgical Passion, Bach harmonized 11 chorales in various settings at strategic places in his expansive <St. John Passion> (1724) and 12 in his monumental <St. Matthew Passion> (1727). These include dramatic dialogues between soloist and chorus and soloist with troped (inserted) melody sung by one voice, as well as extensive chorale choruses originally found in his Weimar-Gotha Passion, BC D-1, of 1717. They are "O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde gross" and "Christe du Lamm Gottes"), later inserted into the 1725 reperformance of the <St. John Passion> as part of his chorale cantata cycle. Bach's unparalleled use of the chorale culminated in the opening "Kommt, ihr Töchter, helft mir klagen " (Come, ye Daughters of Zion [Jerusalem], help me lament.) of the <St. Matthew Passion>.
Bach also added two chorales to the "Keiser" <St. Mark Passion> that he presented in 1726: "O hilf Christe, Gottes Sohn," BWV 1084, and "Da Jesu an dem Kreuze stund," BWV 1089.

Having presented two performances of the <St. John Passion> (1724, 1725), the "Keiser" <St. Mark Passion> in 1726 and the first version of the <St. Matthew Passion> in 1727, Bach instituted the four -gospel Passion tetralogy, similar to the cycles instituted in Hamburg in 1691. Bach began his cycle in 1728 with his third version of the <St. John Passion>, then the full version of Matthew in 1729. At this point, as he ceased to produce new sacred cantatas for the church year, Bach presented the less-dramatic, chorale-infused Passion settings of Luke in 1730 and Mark in 1731. In 1732, Bach may have repeated the third version of his <St. John Passion>. In 1733, there was no Good Friday Passion performance because of the mourning period for Saxon Prince August "The Strong."

In 1734, Bach changed course dramatically for the annual Vesper Service Passion presentation, chosing a poetic Passion oratorio of Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, "Ein Lämmlein geht und trägt die Schuld" (A lambkin goes and bears our guilt), performed on April 23 at the St. Thomas Church (Schabalina, Tatjana; "Texte zur Music in St. Petersburg," Bach-Jahrbuch 2008: 77-84). It contains 22 sacred dramatic sections (contemplations), usually with four movements and ending with a congregational chorale and including an opening evangelist's poetic paraphrase recitative of the Passion plot action, followed by a soliloquy (reflective monologue) aria for the figure of the "Believing Soul," and a da-capo commentary aria.

Stölzel, music director in Gotha, observed a tradition there of hybrid poetic Passion oratorios with many chorales, established as early as 1714, and where Bach presented his "Weimar" Passion oratorio in 1717. The printed text of the 1734 music shows a blend of lesser-known contemporary chorales drawn from the Gotha hymn book, as well as well-known hymns also used by Bach. These include the opening setting of Paul Stockmann's Passion song, "Ein lämmlein geht und trägt die Schuld," the most popular Passion oratorio chorale, as well as the Passion Chorale "Ich will hier bei dir stehen," "Ach grosser König," "O Lamm Gottes unschuldig," "Gott ist mein Trost und Zuversicht," "Jesus wahrer Mensch und Gott," and closing with the traditional "O Jesu du, mein Hilf und Ruh."

Until recently, Bach scholarship has shown little Passion interest beyond the oratorio Passions of John and Matthew, generally ignoring the <St. Mark Passion> as a parody, the Picander Passion oratorio (text only) of 1725, the 1740 pastiches of Keiser-Handel and After C. H. Graun, the "Keiser" <St. Mark Passion>, and other Passion activities of Bach.

Now, with the recent discovery of the Stölzel Passion oratorio presentation in 1734 and the completion of Bach's <St. Mark Passion>, these works represent a more significant and complementary part of Bach's Passion production mosaic. The record shows that the progressive Leipzig New Church presented poetic Passion oratorios, beginning in 1717 with the popular Telemann <Brockes Passion> and a Christoph Gottlieb Fröber setting of a "Brockes Passion" in 1729, rivaling Bach's <St. Matthew Passion> at St. Thomas Church. Previous Bach scholarship may have been motivated by the sense that parodies, pastiches, and poetic Passions essentially were Bach's response to external restrictions and vexations.

Bach's motivation seems more complex and pragmatic. The record shows that in 1739 the conservative Leipzig Town Council again objected to Bach's planned Passion presentation on Good Friday, this time on the grounds that Bach had not submitted the libretto in advance for its approval prior to printing, to which Bach responded that he had presented the unidentified work several times before. It is also documented that Bach had composed and presented his Weimar-Gotha Passion oratorio in 1717, and had considered using the 1725 Picander Passion oratorio text. Further, the progressive Dresden faction on the town council favored popular composers who were the contenders for the Leipzig Cantor position in 1722-23, Telemann, Fasch, Graupner, and Stölzel, who composed "Brockes Passions" as well as numerous annual church cantata cycles.

A summary of Bach's initial Passion record in Leipzig shows that he had two Passions in hand at his probe in early 1723,his Gotha Passion oratorio and the "Keiser" oratorio <St. Mark Passion>. In 1724 he observed the tradition of presenting an oratorio Passion based on one of the four Gospels, begun in 1721 with his predecessor Kuhnau's <St. Mark Passion>, with Bach's treatment of John's portrayal of Christus Victor, the most popular gospel, leading off Holy Week on Palm (Passion) Sunday. In 1725, Bach considered the Picander setting that has paraphrases in the <St. Matthew Passion. Instead, he revived the St. John Passion with five chorus and aria insertions from Gotha Passion, in 1726 he presented the "Keiser" Passion, in 1727 he presented the initial version of his <St. Matthew Passion>, possibly a single-chorus version expanded in 1729, and the <St. John Passion> in 1728.

Subsequently, following the departure from the liturgical oratorio tradition, begun in 1721, with the Stölzel oratorio Passion of 1734 as a composer's holiday or respite, Bach resumed the tradition, possibly with all four biblical Passions: in 1735, a reperformance of the Apocryphal Luke Passion; in 1736, the final version of Matthew (closing Part 1 with the Gotha Passion chorale chorus "O Mensch bewein"; in 1737, no performance found; in 1738, an entry for a Passion printed text book but no performance found; and in 1739, no performance found but evidence that Bach planned the <St. John Passion> in a definitive version like Matthew in 1736 but instead reperformed either the 1731 <St. Mark Passion> or the Telemann <Brockes Passion>.

Bach's 1739 conflict with the Leipzig Town Council brought matters to a head. Bach had begun a major revision of what was to be the final version of the <St. John Passion> but left it unfinished, substituting instead a fourth version in the late 1740s that reverted to virtually the original 1724 version. The 1725 second version had added two chorale choruses and a troped aria from the Weimar Gotha 1717 Passion. The third version of 1728/32 eliminated the 1725 chorale-based additions as well as the original reference to the earthquake, taken from Matthew's Gospel, leaving a pure-John gospel Passion.

Thus far in his required traditional annual Passion performances, Bach seems to have observed two principals in his choices of music: First, he maintained a flexibility, having available his works and those in both liturgical and poetic forms of other composers in case of vexations from the town council, and, second, he sought as a well-ordered church music to create works of the highest quality that faithfully portrayed the characteristic story of each Passion gospel account.

In the 1740s, Bach's personal Passion odyssey ended as he turned his creative energies to publications and special commissions. He revived the <St. Matthew Passion> twice (in 1742 and 1743, 1745 or 1746), as well as Mark in 1744, and Luke in 1745. Then, as he took up the completion of the <Mass in B Minor>, in 1746 he may have presented a third oratorio Passion, Handel's <Brockes Passion>, followed by the first of two "Pasticcio Passions," using the "Keiser Passion" oratorio with seven inserted arias from the Handel Passion in 1747 or 1748. He revived his <St. John Passion> in 1749 with the fourth and final version. The "Passion Pasticcio after Graun was "probably performed by Johann Christoph Altnikol at Thomaskirche in Leipzig on Good Friday, March 29, 1750" (BCW) or a revival of Bach's 1749 version of the <St. John Passion>.

Recent Discoveries

The most recent commentary on Bach's <St. Mark Passion> is Andreas Glöckner's notes to the 2009 Carus recording (BCW Recordings No. 22) of his source-criticial Carus edition of 2004 (cited above and below). Discussing the recent find of the 1744 reperformance of the <St. Mark Passion> (Tatjana Schabalina, "Texte zur Music" in St. Petersburg - Weitere Funde," Bach-Jahrbuch, 2009, pp. 77-84), he notes Bach's addition of two da-capo arias, one in each part, in "equally dramaturgically important position(s)." Here is the German texts and Francis Browne's new translation of the commentary arias:

1. 247/36a(12fI) Aria follows Peter's insistence at the Last Supper that he will not betray Jesus:

Ich lasse dich, mein Jesu nicht,
wo du verdirbst will ich verderben.
Durch Creutz und Schmach
folg ich dir nach
und wo du stirbst, da will ich sterben.

I will not leave thee, my Jesus,
Where you come to ruin so will I.
Through cross and disgrace
I follow thee yet
And where you die, there will I die.

2. 247/96aII(33aII) Aria follows when "Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate marveled":

Will ich doch gar gerne schweigen,
böse Welt, verfolge mich:
Aber du, mein lieber Gott,
siehest meiner Feinde Spott
du wirst auch mein Unschuld zeigen.

If I willingly then keep silent,
evil world, persecute me:
But you, my dear God,
see the mockery of my enemies :
you will also show/make known my innocence.

There other "differences" in the 1744 text involve minor word changes in the narratives and chorales as well as designations to clarify the use of soloists or chorus (tutti) for the narrative recitatives and crowd choruses


Bach scholars continue to search for evidence of the disposition of the Passion materials Bach used in Leipzig almost annually from 1723 to 1750. Of central concern are the "five Passions" attributed to Bach in his 1754 Obituary.

Glöckner in his 2009 Carus recording notes says that Bach's oldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann, probably inherited the materials of the <St. Mark Passion> at the 1750 estate division with brother Carl Philipp Emmanuel, who preserved the Matthew and John materials found in his 1790 estate catalog. Glöckner indicates that Friedemann may have inherited the 1717 Weimar-Gotha Passion, noting that in 1749 he "used several arias from a Passion music written `at least 30 years ago' by his father" for a serenade, an event that cannot be verified.

Friedemann possibly sold manuscript scores of the <St. Luke Passion>, BWV 246, and the <St. Mark Passion>, BWV 247, to the Leipzig publishing firm of Breitkopf and Sons. They are listed in the Breitkopf 1764 catalog available for copying for a fee, Luke as attributed to Sebastian but Mark listed as "anonymous."

For the two surviving Bach Passions, John and Matthew, "the sources are incomplete," says leading Bach scholar Christoph Wolff in his notes for the Ton Koopman 1999 Erato pastiche recording. Only the Matthew 1736 version with various parts survives and for John only the various parts from the different performances and a partial autograph c.1740. While the score(s) of the early versions of the <St. John Passion> are lost, an early version of the <St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244b>, exists from an Altnikol pupil, Johann Christoph Farlau, transcribed possibly in 1756 for a performance by Bach successor Johann Friedrich Doles.

Assuming that Emmanuel preserved all the Passion materials he received, that is, the John and Matthew scores and parts sets, Friedemann may have inherited all the remaining materials of the five Passions and eventually disposed of them. As to the 1740 Passion Pasticcios, only versions in others' hands survive. The "Keiser-Hamburg" <St. Mark Passion> exists in three versions in Bach's hands, as well the first part of the apocryphal <St. Luke Passion>.

Theological Perspectives

Bach's pivotal 1739 conflict with the Leipzig Town Council over the text of his coming <St. John Passion> Good Friday performance is the springboard for Peter Smaill's "Bach among the Heretics: Inferences from the Cantata texts," <Understanding Bach>, 4, 101-118; (c) Bach Network UK, 2009. Smaill's essay examines the various, mostly Protestant, theological perspectives and belief practices of Bach's time which were influential in his vocal music texts and which may have upset members of the town council, leading to Bach's cancellation of the planned performance. In particular, Smaill points out the theological perspectives of Bach's two major Passions: the non-synoptic gospel of John's emphasis on the "Christus Victor" triumph over sin and death and the Matthew synoptic portrayal of Christ's sacrifice on the cross as representative of St. Anselm's "satisfaction/substitution" theory of atonement for mankind's sins.

Smaill suggests (p. 102) that the town council's objection was "mistakenly thinking" of the "less-celebrated" <St. Mark Passion>, whose theology "hangs partly on the dictum" of the aria, No. 106(34), "Angenehmes Morgeschrei!" (Pleasing Murder-Cry!) when the crowd tells Pilate in the turba chorus, "Crucify him." The rondo commentary aria says, "Jesus on the cross must die / only to free me," as an expression of the substitution theory. Yet the next and final aria (da capo) just after Jesus' death, No. 126(42), "Welt und Himmel, nehmt zu Öhren" (Earth and Heaven, listen), says that Jesus' death-cry: "To all sinners Jesus saith / he hath fulfilled his work / that Eden might be restored / which to us once was lost." This could infer the Leibnitz Universalist principal that all sinners are saved, ignoring the Lutheran doctrine of "justification by faith through grace alone," meaning universal salvation independent of faith.

Smaill then examines various religious "isms," particularly Pietism as found in the chorales of both Bach's John and Matthew Passions, "predominantly Pietist in origin and <affekt>" (p. 102), concluding (p. 117) that syncretising theological positions within Lutheran Orthodoxy "very likely caused offence among some councillors."

For further information, see my BCW article, "Spiritual Sources of Bach's St. Matthew Passion":

Appendix A: Recent Bach Passion Writings

Recent Bach scholarship has produced four books that examine various facets of his Passion production, although none speaks in-depth of the <St. Mark Passion>: Daniel R. Melamed's <Hearing Bach's Passions> (Oxford University Press, 2005), Michael Marissen's <Bach's Oratorios: The Parellel German-English Texts with Annotations> (Oxford University Press, 2008), John Butt's <Bach's Dialogue with Modernity: Perspectives on the Passions> (Cambridge University Press, 2010), and <J.S. Bach and the Oratorio Tradition (essays edited by Melamed, University of Illinois Press, 2011).

1. A fascinating exploration of source-critical issues is found in Melamed's <Hearing Bach's Passions>. They involve the gulf that separates us from the world in which Bach created and presented Passions. Melamed examines the original conditions, particularly the uses of double forces in Matthew, BWV 244; the various versions of John, BWV 245'; six versions of the pastiche "Keiser-Hamburg" <St. Mark Passion>; the challenges of parody and reconstruction in Mark, BWV 247; and the anonymous <Luke Passion> with its spurious attribution and tenuous connections to Bach performances.

2. Marrisen's study of <Bach's Oratorios> is a fascinating philological examination of the original poetic texts and their theological relationship to the biblical accounts found in Bach six Passion and feast day oratorios. These involve the rich multiple meanings and various perspectives of the poets and theologians of Bach's time in the context of the full biblical and poetic texts in Bach's musical treatment, including a synoptic examination side by side of the Passion narratives of Matthew, Mark and John.

3. Butt's <Bach's Dialogue with Modernity> is an exhaustive, complex intellectual study, reflected in the chapter titles: "Bach's Passions and the construction of early modern subjectives," "Bach's Passions and the textures of time," "The Hermeneutic perspective - negotiating the poles of faith and suspicion," "The voices we hear and the construction of narrative authority," and "Between rhetoric and dialect - Bach's inventive stance." His conclusion: "The value of this music lies, I claim, not in any universal revelation . . . but in the way it can imply a powerful dynamic relating to the modern condition."

4. The essays in <J. S. Bach and the Oratorio Tradition> are derived from the 2008 American Bach Society Conference. Of special interest are Melamed's study of Bach and the poet Barthold Heinrich Brockes (<St. John Passion>), Markus Rathey's study of chorale tropes especially in the <St. Matthew Passion>, and Laurence Dreyfus' later study of musical poetics in the SJP.

(Note: Butt's lone comment on the <St. Mark Passion> in a footnote bears further exploration: Citing Peter Smaill's personal communication that "several cantata texts develop the idea of a `hidden' God whom is temporarily absent but paradoxically close to the believer" - "something similar is implicit in the surviving texts of Bach's lost Mark Passion.")

Appendix B, Music and Recordings:

Bach's <St. Mark Passion> was introduced in 1964 in the Diethard Hellmann Hännsler edition of choruses, arias, and chorales, recorded on Erato (Epic, Musical Heritage Society, Recordings No. 1). The first edition of the reconstructed narrative in 1980 is from Gustav Adolph Theill (See I below). Using the Hellmann lyric music, Stefan Sutkowski & Tadeusz Maciejewski in 1984 assembled a pastiche narrative from passages in the <St. Luke Passion> (Bongiovanni, No. 3).

There followed various narrative "reconstructions" of originally composed music in the baroque style (Richard T. Gore), as well as pastiches of music by Baroque other composers such as Heinrich Schütz (Volker Brautigam, Nos. 15, 18), Reinhard Keiser (Andors Gome [Bärenreiter BA 5209, 1997; Garudeamus, No. 9] and Simon Heighes [Musica Oscura, Brilliant Classics, No. 7]), Gioseppe Peranda (Jos von Veldhoven), and Bach student Gottfried Augustus Homilius (Albrecht); as well as original music by Otto Bussing. These are described in TABLE 1 Restorations (Edition & Recordings), Page 15f; BCW:, Narrative Parody In Bach's St. Mark Passion [PDF].

In 1999, Ton Koopman recorded his own version of the <St. Mark Passion> for Erato (No. 12), using non-source critical Bach lyrical materials throughout, as well as his own composition in baroque style of the narrative recitatives.

Currently, there are four available editions: the Bärenreiter (Keiser-Gome) edition listed above as well as two Carus editions, the Johannes J. E. Koch original narration in baroque style (II below), the Hellmann-Glöckner source-critical lyrical music only (III below), and the new Peters Edition of Grychtolic (IV below) that uses comparable narrative passages from the <St. Matthew> and <St. John Passions>

I. Gustav Adolph Theill, ed.; Markuspassion nach BWV 247, score (Bonn: Forberg-Verlag, 1980, OOP). Monograph, Die Markuspassion: Entstehung, Vergessen Wiederentdeckung, Rekonstruktion ( . . . Composition, Forgotten, Discovery, Reconstruction), 2nd, expanded edition (Steinfeld: Salvator-Verlag, 1981); complete version: original narrative recitatives set to entire Picander biblical text, turbae from Bach choruses, parodied appropriate Bach lyrical music; first performance, 1978, Steinfeld; duration, 110 minutes.

Recording (BCW No. 2): Markus-Passion BWV 247 - in a reconstruction by Gustav Adolf Theill; Conductor Gerda Schaarwächter; Johanneskantorei Köln Klettenberg Chor & Orchester Tenor [Evangelist]: Joachim Calaminus; Bass [Jesus]: Klaus Mertens; Soprano: Jutta Riess; Alto: Hilke Helling; Tenor: Friedhelm Petrovitsch; Baritone: Anton Wassong
Johanneskantorei Köln Klettenberg FP-8001, 1982; 3-LP / TT: 130:00
Recorded live at Kirche Sankt Bruno, Köln-Klettenberg, Germany.
Buy this album at: Johanneskantorei Köln Klettenberg

II. Music: Carus Editons, CV 10.365/00 full score and performance material
Markuspassion; Version, Johannes H. E. Koch; copyright 1998
Reconstruction (based parodies) of Bach's St. Mark Passion by Diethard Hellmann (1964), with new composed recitatives (texts of the evangelium) and turba choirs by Johannes Koch (1998). The words of Jesus are accompanyed by 2 gambas and organ.
Soli SAT, Coro SATB, 2 Fl, 2 Obda, 2 Vl, Va, 2 Vg, 2 Lauten, Bc (Org, Vc/Fg/Vne)

Recording: Carus, Musik aus der FraueDresden - Musikalische Höhepunkte der Jahre 2005-2010, CV 83.248/00; Others (BCW Recordings Nos. 10, 16, 20).

III. Music: Carus Editons (Stuttgarter Bach-Ausgaben Urtext), CV 31.247/00 full score and performance material; St. Mark Passion(Markuspassion), Version Hellmann/Glöckner, copyright 2004.
This is a revised edition of Diethard Hellmann's (1964 Hännsler edition H.5409) reconstruction of the St. Mark Passion of 1731 based on parodies. It contains a new foreword by Andreas Glöckner which deals with the present state of research on the Passion. The edition now includes all 16 chorales which have been handed down and which appear in facsimile in this edition. This new edition serves the needs of practical performance as well as the interest in the history of the Passion as it has been handed down to the present day.
Soli SAT, Coro SATB, 2 Fl, 2 Ob/(2 Obda, 2 Vl, Va, 2 Vga, Bc, [2 Lauten]
Language: German; Duration: 75 minText source: Bibeltext, Kirchenlieder und freie Dichtung von Christian Friedrich Henrici (Picander); Biblical reference: Mk 14-15

Recording (BCW No. 22). J.S. Bach: Markus-Passion
Markus-Passion BWV 247 - in a reconstruction by Diethard Hellmann, revised by Andreas Glöckner
Conductor Michael Alexander Willens; Ensemble Amarcord / Kölner Akademie;
Speaker (narrative): Dominique Horwitz; Soprano: Anja Zügner; Soprano: Dorothea Wagner; Mezzo-soprano: Clare Wilkinson; Mezzo-soprano: Silvia Janak
Ensemble Amarcord: Wolfram Lattke (Tenor); Martin Lattke (Tenor); Frank Ozimek (Baritone); Daniel Knauft (Bass); Holger Krause (Bass)
Carus-Verlag 83.244
Mar 26-28, 2009
CD / TT: 73:15
Recorded live at Frauenkirche Dresden, Germany.
Buy this album at:
Andreas Glöckner notes (English, pp. 7-10)

IV. St Mark Passion, BWV 247 (Alexander Ferdinand Grychtolik) Complete reconstruction
Vocal Score Edition Peters EP 11233 ?16.80 ($28); c 2009, Henry Litolff's Verlag; Duration 120 minutes.
Performance material available for hire. As no score has survived, there have already been several attempts to reconstruct this work. Using "parody" technique (i.e. borrowing and re-texting movements from other Bach works), the harpsichord player and composer Alexander Ferdinand Grychtolik has created a convincing complete reconstruction of this lost work. The premiere in 2007 allowed listeners to experience the St Mark Passion for the &#64257;rst time as a stylistically uni&#64257;ed whole.

Reconstructions. In 2010, Alexander Ferdinand Grychtolik made a first edition of the late version of the St. Mark Passion (from 1744) [sic.; first version, 1731) as a stylistically consistent reconstruction, published by Edition Peters. The text of this unknown later version was discovered 2009 in Saint Petersburg. In this version, Bach added two arias and he made small changes in Picander's text. Wikipedia:;

Recordings: None.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 31, 2012):
Markus-Passion & Trauerode

William Hoffman wrote:
< In response, Bach, his poet Picander, and his pastor Christian Weiss Sr., who preached the sermon at the Passion Vesper Service, probably together produced a work suffused with didactic and reflective Lutheran hymns ... The work is framed with poignant, vibrant opening and closing choruses - madrigalian movements mostly drawn from Bach's <Funeral Ode,> BWV 198, of 1727. >
I've mentioned this before, but I first heard the Mark Passion through Gonnewein's old LP recording as a teenager when I was struck by the power of the opening and closing choruses: the articulated cries of "Geh, Jesu, geh" which open the work, and the final unison incantation of the epitaph on Christ's tomb "Mein Leben kommt" are more than equal to the other Passions.

I mention this personal devotion only because Bach and Picander must have worked very closely to ensure that the rhetorical structure of the choruses were maintained from Ode to Passion. It wouldn't surprise me to discover that both works were conceived simultaneously and that Bach knew he wanted
to use the music again.

"Geh, Jesu, Geh:

"Bein deinem Grab":

Charles Francis wrote (April 1, 2012):
Markus-Passion, BWV 247: reconstructions

Below are audio-video links to some reconstructions I came across that may be of interest.

Kölner Akademie:
Falsche Welt, Dein schmeichelnd Küssen:

Jörn Boysen completion, Den Haag, Lutherse Kerk, 21 April 2011:
6. Evang. Am ersten Tage der süßen Brodte (Boysen)
7. CHORAL. Ich, ich und meine Sünden (Bach)
8. Evang. Er antwortete, und sprach zu ihnen (Boysen)
25. Recitativo: Und sie führeten Jesum zu dem Hohe-Priester & Chorus: Wir haben gehöret:
32. Aria: Angenehmes Mordgeschrey (nicely done!)

Johannes Stecher:

Ton Koopman:

And, something completely different for the 1st April:

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 1, 2012):
Markus-Passion, BWV 247: Turbae parodies

William Hoffman wrote:
< In and of itself, Bach's last original Passion is a "parody" work that uses 16 familiar Passion and non-Passion chorales as its core music, >
I've read several times that Bach reused some of the scriptural crowd choruses of the Mark Passion for the shepherds and magi choruses in the Christmas Oratorio. Is there any historical basis for this claim? Unless I'm mistaken, Bach never reused prose recitatives and it seems odd to me that he would reuse the prose turbae when it would be easier to compose them afresh.

William Hoffman wrote (April 2, 2012):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I've read several times that Bach reused some of the scriptural crowd choruses of the Mark Passion for the shepherds and magi choruses in the Christmas Oratorio. Is there any historical basis for this claim? Unless I'm mistaken, Bach never reused prose recitatives and it seems odd to me that he would reuse the prose turbae when it would be easier to compose them afresh. >
As in other Bach source-critical scholarship issues, the matter of narrative style parody (recitatives and turbae choruses), ranges from strict constructionists such as Andreas Gloeckner, who have ruled out all possible narrative materials (Carus recording notes, 2009), including the somewhat-accepted Christmas Oratorio turbae (NBA and Bach Compendium). Even Alfred Duerr found "Pfui dich" "convinces." The old adage that Bach never parodied a recitative still gets repeated in some Bach circles. At the other extreme is the "anything goes" attitude of Koopman and others. In my thesis, I cite various authorities in CHAPTER 5 MARK AS PARODY: AN OVERVIEW, Page 43; CHAPTER 6 ST. PASSION: SELECTED EXAMPLES OF NARRATIVE PARODY, Page 58. These include, Schweitzer, Schering, Smend, and Eric Chafe as well as adapters Theill, Heighes, and Gomme.

I see there are still efforts at newly-composed Marcan narrative in baroque style: Byson Musica Poetica, BCW Discussion,, BWV 247/5-7:
"In April 2011, Musica Poetica presented a new completion of J. S. Bach's St. Mark Passion. Jörn Boysen had composed all missing recits and turba-choirs. In March 2012 it has been performed in Kiel."

Meanwhile, we have the first "complete," source-based (text and music) realization:
Grychtolic, Peters Edition No. 11233, 2009, published before the discovery of the 1744 text-based version with two additional arias, probably parodied, whose sources have yet to be determined.

By my count, we have Bach's St. Mark Passion in at least 16 "complete" realizations with narrative: baroque style (Trommler, Theill, Gore, Koch, Koopman, Boysen), baroque pastiches (Sutkowski-Maciejewski, Veldhoven, Albrecht, Heighes, Gomme, Kelber), newly-composed hybrids (Brautigam, Bussing), and source critical (mine and Grychtolic). We also have the Hellmann-Gloeckner lyric edition with spoken narrative).

Based on Bach's practices, including the turbae core music in the St. John Passion, Bach's parody ranges from strict new-text underlay from the Funeral Ode, to extensive contrafaction in the B-Minor Mass, to partial parody from the Koethen serenades and in the drammi per musica, to radial parody in the Koethen Funeral Music and a parody in the Passion Pasticcio After Braun, arioso BWV 1088 (1749), a Bach "parody" of the tenor arioso, "O Schmerz" (Ah woe!), BWV 244/19(25), from the <St. Matthew Passion>.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 2, 2012):
William Hoffman wrote:
< The old adage that Bach never parodied a recitative still gets repeated in some Bach circles. >
I'll make a distinction between prose, scriptural recitatives and metrical verse recitatives, the latter obviously being easier to produce a contrafactum. There are certainly melodic motifs and cadential figures which recur throughout Bach's recitatives both prose and poetic. Can someone provide an example of verse recitatives which used note-for-note the same music in two different texts?

William Hoffman wrote (April 3, 2012):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Can someone provide an example of verse recitatives which used note-for-note the same music in two different texts? >
Cantata BWV 66a/1=66/2
Cantata BWV 66a/3=66/4

Cantata 134a/1=134/1
Cantata 134a/3=134=3
Cantata 134a/7=134=5

Cantata 173a/1=173/1
Cantata 173a/5=173/5

Cantata 205a/2=205/2
Cantata 205a/4=205/4
Cantata 205a/6=205/6
Cantata 205a/10=205/10

Cantata 210a/1=210/1
Cantata 210a/9=210/9

Sources where one of the two texts is lost but instrumental music survives:
Cantata 184a/1=184/1
Cantata 184a/3=184/3

Cantata 248a/2=248/56 (arioso)
Cantata 248a/4=248/61 (arioso)
Cantata 248a/6=248/63 (arioso)

This list does not include partial recitative parodies where Bach substitutes only a few words, keeps the same music, or maintains only the basso continuo part in both versions: Cantatas 30a/8, 69a/2, 120/3,5, 201/14, 206/2,4,10; 207a/7, 208a/8, and 249a/3 -- techniques that could have been used in a partial parody from corresponding narrative passages in the St. Matthew Passion to the St. Mark Passion.

In the case of Cantata BWV 173 for Pentecost Monday, we have three versions of the recitatives parodied from the original ?Helbig 1721 serenade text: the original 1724 "straight" sacred parody, the c.1728 minor changes, and the 1731 major changes in text and music. As to the text parodist, it could be (variously) Bach himself, Christian Weiss Sr, and/or Picander.

For a fascinating, "real" understanding of Bach's reworkings of music and text, listen to CD3 of Helmut Rilling's addendum commentary and music in his latest recording of the St. John Passion -- all five versions (1724, 1725, 1728/32, 1739, 1749). These include the five choruses and arias from the Weimar-Gotha Passion (1725 only), as well as changes in performing practice, instrumentation, musical texture, and text changes in the final three versions.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 2, 2012):
William Hoffman wrote:
< This list does not include partial recitative parodies where Bach substitutes only a few words, keeps the same music, or maintains only the basso continuo part in both versions: techniques that could have been used in a partial parody from corresponding narrative passages in the St. Matthew Passion to the St. Mark Passion. >
This is a particularly interesting literary problem which Bach would have been well aware of: the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark & Luke) share important textual correspondences arising from Matthew and Luke's dependence on Mark as their source. The Johannine Gospel on the other hand is a more independent literary document. It would be interesting to look across recitatives in Bach and his contemporaries to see if the Synoptic texts have commonalities of musical expression.

We need more passions by Bach.

William Hoffman wrote (April 3, 2012):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< 1. It would be interesting to look across recitatives in Bach and his contemporaries to see if the Synoptic texts have commonalities of musical expression. >
The only significant comparison we have is to Telemann and C.P.E. Bach who presented the four Gospel Passion oratorios in cyclic order from 1722 to 1788 in Hamburg. With the recent discoveries in Russia of "lost" manuscripts, more are being performed. There are many parallels in basic treatment of musical expression in familiar passages while the major differences are the influences of the gallant and Brockes Passion word-painting, with more concise, perfunctory narrative and lyric numbers as well as fewer chorales.

Hamburg had special limitations. The annual works were first performed in the lead churches on Passion (Palm) Sunday during the main services and repeated at the other major churches during Holy Week's main services. The music was limited to one hour and the first part of the three synoptic Gospels -- the omens and Last Supper -- was eliminated, as well as Christ's burial. Bach always used all the verses of both chapters in all four accounts., BWV 244-247.

The most common -- and dramatic -- areas of all four gospels are Jesus' trials and confrontation with antagonists there, on the Way of the Cross, and at the Crucifixion. These also are found in the Oberammergau Passion and the poetic harmony passions.

< 2. We need more passions by Bach. >
It is interesting to note that Bach in the 1740s was involved in two extensive pasticcio Passions of Keiser-Handel and After C. H. Graun. Next year, we'll discuss the Bach arioso parody in the Pasticcio Passion After C. H. Graun, as well as other contemporary trends.

The Brockes and similar poetic Passions prevailed through the 1720s in Germany, sometimes presented in secular spaces like the Hamburg and Frankfurt drillhouses (armories) during Lent, when the municipal opera houses were closed. Beginning abut 1730, the Graun brothers produced poetic Passion cantatas, like those Bach used, while another trend involved pasticcios such as the "Keiser-Hamburg St. Mark Passion." This Bach utilized three times, while at least three Keiser Passion pasticcio versions, with other Keiser Passion music, made the rounds in Germany, according to Daniel Melamed in <Hearing Bach's Passions>.

Meanwhile, the biblical Passion tradition waned as did the Brockes and similar poetic Passions. In 1755, C.H. Graun presented his Passion Cantata "Der Tod Jesu" (The Death of Jesus) in Berlin to a simplistic poetic text of Carl Wilhelm Ramler which shifts the emphasis from suffering to redemption and would be performed in the new concert halls. Telemann also presented his version a week earlier in 1755 in Hamburg. The Grbecame a tradition especially around Berlin, and wasn't supplanted by Bach's St. Matthew Passion for another 100 years.
Later, both Telemann and C.P.E. Bach composed Pasticcio Passions in Hamburg. Emmanuel presented a pasticcio St. John Passion of 1772, which also includes J.S. Bach's SJP closing chorus, "Ruht wohl, ihr heiligen Gebeine," turba choruses from Georg Philipp Telemann's St. John Passion of 1761, Gottfried August Homilius' St. Mark Passion, and a few numbers from C.P.E. Bach. Meanwhile, Emmanuel also in his annual Passions used his father's chorales from the St. Matthew Passion and turba choruses from the St. John Passion.


Markus-Passion BWV 247: Recordings | General Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | BWV 247 - R. Goodman | BWV 247 - T. Koopman
Narrative Parody In Bach's St. Mark Passion [W. Hoffman]

Recordings & Discussions of Other Vocal Works: Main Page | Motets BWV 225-231 | Mass in B minor BWV 232 | Missae Breves & Sanctus BWV 233-242 | Magnificat BWV 243 | Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 | Johannes-Passion BWV 245 | Lukas-Passion BWV 246 | Markus-Passion BWV 247 | Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 | Oster-Oratorium BWV 249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-523 | Quodlibet BWV 524 | Aria BWV 1127


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