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J. S. Bach's Johannine Theology: The St. John Passion and the Cantatas for Spring 1725
     

J. S. Bach's Johannine Theology: The St. John Passion and the Cantatas for Spring 1725

by Eric Chafe
 

Bach's Johannine Theology: The St. John Passion and the Cantatas for Spring 1725 is a fertile examination of this group of fourteen surviving liturgical works. Renowned Bach scholar Eric Chafe begins his investigation into Bach's theology with the composer's St. John Passion, concentrating on its first and last versions. Beyond providing a uniquely detailed

Overview


Bach's Johannine Theology: The St. John Passion and the Cantatas for Spring 1725 is a fertile examination of this group of fourteen surviving liturgical works. Renowned Bach scholar Eric Chafe begins his investigation into Bach's theology with the composer's St. John Passion, concentrating on its first and last versions. Beyond providing a uniquely detailed assessment of the passion, Bach's Johannine Theology is the first work to take the work beyond the scope of an isolated study, considering its meaning from a variety of musical and historical standpoints. Chafe thereby uncovers a range of theological implications underlying Bach's creative approach itself.

Building considerably on his previous work, Chafe here expands his methodological approach to Bach's vocal music by arguing for a multi-layered approach to religion in Bach's compositional process. Chafe bases this approach primarily on two aspects of Bach's theology: first, the specific features of Johannine theology, which contrast with the more narrative approach found in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke); and second, contemporary homiletic and devotional writings - material that is not otherwise easily accessible, and less so in English translation. Bach's Johannine Theology provides an unprecedented, enlightening exploration of the theological and liturgical contexts within which this music was first heard.

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From the Publisher

"Chafe's interpretation of the St. John detects theology in almost every bar. He notes that over the two parts of the Passion--the first centered on Peter's denial of Jesus, the second on Jesus' trial before Pontius Pilate--Bach shifts from flat key signatures to sharp ones and back again. The very look of the notation on the page might be symbolic: sharp signs resemble crosses (# or x). At each transition, Jesus' seeming defeat becomes an emblem of his power. After all, he had predicted that Peter would deny knowing him, and so that humiliation only leads to his victory. Before Pilate, Jesus exposes the emptiness of earthly authority. ('You would have no power over Me, if it were not given to you from above.') As this exchange takes place, the tonality is yanked from D minor, with one flat, to C-sharp minor, with four sharps."--The New Yorker

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199773343
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
03/31/2014
Pages:
624
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.80(d)

Meet the Author

Eric T. Chafe is Victor and Gwendolyn Beinfield Professor of Music at Brandeis University, where he has taught since 1982. His primary research areas are the music of J. S. Bach, on which he has published several books and numerous articles, Wagner (a book on Tristan und Isolde), and Monteverdi. His books have won the AMS Kinkeldey Award and the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award.

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