St Matthew Passion BWV 244
Johann Sebastian Bach
Bach's choral masterpiece falls to its lowest-ever position
Good Friday 1727 in Leipzig was a particularly good Friday. When Bach had first arrived, four years earlier, he had no doubt wowed his employers not to mention the congregation with that year's easter offering, the St. John Passion. Bach was ushered to Leipzig on the promise of a very large salary indeed, so the splendour of the work was probably timely. Given that he was responsible for providing weekly music at not one, but two, churches, for teaching singing to the school-children, for training the choir, for teaching Latin (although, in the end, he farmed this part out to a deputy), he could surely be forgiven for thinking he was doing enough.
Four years into the job, though, he decided to compose another major choral piece. The St. Matthew Passion is a monster of a work for two orchestras with extra words by Bach's favourite poet, Picander.
Find out more
Listen to Classic FM online, on air and on the go
Discover more ways to enjoy the nation's favourite classical music station, wherever you are, from listening on your digital radio to downloading our free app for smart phones and tablets.
The Movie Music Hall of Fame
Discover the nation's favourite film soundtracks in the Classic FM Movie Music Hall of Fame, featuring music by John Williams, Ennio Morricone and Hans Zimmer.
Don't miss the Classic FM Hall of Fame Hour
Join John Suchet for an hour of the very best classical music, from full-blooded Romantic concertos to delicate Classical miniatures.
Browse Halls of Fame past
Discover more about our annual chart and explore Halls of Fame past, as far back as 1996.