Leipzig 1724 - the St. John Passion


This is Bach's fair copy score of the opening chorus of the St John Passion. In the dense 16th notes of the strings (center), one gets a visual sense of the dark, brooding unrest of the opening--g minor, aching dissonances in the oboes soaring over the swirling texture. Yet the text for this music will be "Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!" (Psalm 8).

Thus we see Bach's theological "take" on the passion story told by St John--there is a darkness, a humiliation, an ultimate sacrifice that is, at the same time, a triumph, a source of joy, a sign of the imponderable majesty of God. The music throughout this Passion beautifully and movingly expresses this paradox.

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