Since its composition and first performance in 1724, Bach’s St. John Passion has captured the spiritual and musical attention of musicians, audiences, and congregations. This book examines this monumental work from a twenty-first century perspective, providing a new and comprehensive examination of the music and libretto.
Michael Fuchs and Bradley Jenson explore the historical context of the work as well as its performance history and practice. They address important questions regarding the Gospel of John, Martin Luther’s theology, and anti-Judaism and antisemitism in the libretto. Combining expert theological and musical analysis, as well as a new English translation, this book is a useful resource for students, musicians, and scholars while being accessible to general audiences with a strong interest in the music of J.S. Bach, highlighting the composer’s compositional creativity.
Michael Fuchs is director of choral activities and associate professor of music at the University of Wisconsin, Superior. Dr. Fuchs is also the director of choral activities at First Lutheran Church in Duluth, Minnesota.
Rev. Bradley C. Jenson is an ordained minister for over thirty years. He is the author of Luther and Bach on the Magnificat: For Advent and Christmas.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Christoph Wolff
Chapter OneThe St. John Passion: Historical Context and 21st-Century Relevance
Chapter TwoInterpreting the St. John Passion Libretto for the 21st Century
Chapter ThreePerformance History and Practice
Chapter FourBach’s Musical Composition
Chapter FiveResponding to Questions About Antisemitism and Anti-Judaism in the St.
Michael Fuchs and Bradley Jenson offer a thoughtful, original, and updated perspective of the relevance and both the historical and contemporary importance of this enduring work. The scholar, amateur, and lover of J.S. Bach’s music will find this book fulfilling.
“An excellent discussion of the continued role and importance of this seminal work. It is an engaging mix of musical, historical, and theological information, thorough enough to please the serious Bach aficionado, while still remaining approachable to those who simply wish to know more about the topic.”
“This is a responsible and detailed cross-disciplinary study around Bach’s St. John Passion. In addition to an analysis of the Passion itself, it weaves together history and legacy; interpretation in the twenty-first century; performance practice; musical, theological, textual, and Biblical discussions; and questions about anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism.”