Johann Sebastian Bach's St John Passion: Genesis, Transmission, and Meaning

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This book (published in German by Barenreiter in 1988 and now available in English translation for the first time) is a comprehensive guide to the genesis, transmission, structure, meaning, and performance considerations of Bach's St John Passion. The St John Passion is one of Bach's most fascinating works. Its text demonstrates a profound understanding of St John's Gospel. The musical design of the choruses with their numerous interrelationships is quite unique and requires some explanation. The fact that the Passion exists in four different versions leads Durr to ask which changes were intentional and which were the result of practical constraints or of orders issued by church authorities. The introduction to the work is preceded by a detailed account of its genesis and transmission, and the uniquely complicated nature of the sources. The discussion of the Passion itself is based on the assumption that what Bach wanted to say to the Leipzig congregation on Good Friday was designed to be understood in verbal and musical terms. Number symbolism, 'eye music', and encrypted information do not form the essence of what Bach was trying to communicate to us.