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During Lent and Holy Week I like to listen to Johan Sebastian Bach's St. Matthew's Passion (BWV 244) and St. John's Passion (BWV245). they tell their respective evangelist's account of the passion and crucifixion of Christ. Other composers have written similar works but none are as famous as those of Bach. Handle wrote a St. Joh's Passion. However some scholars consider it to be the work of George Bohm (1661-1733) . Polish composer Kristoph Penderecki (born 1933) wrote a St. Luke's Passion. But none are as famous as those of Bach.
Bach was one of the greatest musical geniuses of the last millennium. He came from a musical family. Three of his sons became famous composers in their own right. Bach was born in 1685 the same year as Handle and Scarlatti. He died in 1850. His works are Cataloged by the BWV number instead of Opus numbers. His most famous works are his Brandenburg Concertos, Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring, sheep May safely Graze, Goldberg Variations. He was a Lutheran and wrote a lot of religious music for the Lutheran Church. He lived a century after the Protestant Reformation when the Catholic and Protestant churches separated. After he died his music was almost forgotten. Felix Mendelssohn found some of his manuscripts and helped to revive his music in the 1820's. Beethoven and Mozart were also fans of Bach's music.
There are many excellent recordings of both works. Otto Klemperer, who was Jewish recorded St. Matthews Passion. This work is still available Klemperer's son Actor Werner Klemperer played as Colonel Klink in the late 60's early 70's show Hogan's Heroes. I have one recording of St. John's Passion. It is of with the Gewandausorchester Leipzig with Gunther Ramin. I have two copies of St. Matthwe's Passion. One in German with the Vienna Philharmonic and William Furtwangler. I have one in English with Ralph Vaughan-Williams conducting. Both are older recordings from the 50's before digital recording.
Furtwangler (1886-1954) had a lot of controversies because of his involvement with the Nazi regime. he also tried to help the Jews that he had worked with. It would take too long to talk about it. Vaughan-Williams (1872-1958)was more known as a composer than a conductor.
Both are long works and take over two hours in length. They call for orchestra Chorus, soloists and sometime use a children's choir.