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Barthold Heinrich Brockes
Brockes-Passion - Discussions

Musical Settings of Brockes-Passion

See: Brockes-Passion - Musical Settings & Performances

 

BCW: Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel - Bist du bei mir BWV 508 and Brockes-Passion

Continue of discussion from: Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel & Bach [Bach & Other Composers]

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 13, 2010):
<>
Brockes-Passion

As mentioned above, the most popular work by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, the aria Bist du bei mir, became initially famous because is was (and in some circles still is) often mistakenly attributed to J.S. Bach

If this lead you to the assumption that Stölzel might have written more good music, you would not be mistaken. Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (1690-1747) was the Kapellmeister of the court at Gotha from 1729 until his death in 1749. He also wrote for Sonderhausen. He was a very prolific composer: his lifetime corpus includes seven passions and 12 complete annual cantata cycles as well as cantatas to secular texts. According to reliable sources he composed at least 900 cantatas, and about 500 hundreds of these have come down in full. He also wrote much instrumental music. According to sad circumstances about half of Stölzel's output has not survived, including 80 orchestral suites and 4 operas. As with Bach, I believe that we should be grateful for what has survived instead of being sad of what we lost. Among the Stölzel's survived works we have gems as the Brockes-Passion.

About a year ago I discovered Stölzel's Brockes-Passion. The text of the Brockes-Passion was written by the Hamburg poet and burger Barthold Heinrich Brockes and was published in 1712. The work was one of the first passion oratorios - a free, poetic meditation on the passion story. It became quite popular and was set to music many times. Already in 1712 Brockes organised a performance of the first musical setting of the text, by the opera composer Reinhard Keiser, in his home. The poetic text met with immediate recognition: its theological accent and the new possibilities of artistic design that it opened up were just what people of those times needed and wanted. Other musicians set the libretto to music in rapid succession. G.F. Handel supplied the second version, probably in 1715. G.P. Telemann performed his setting of the passion in Frankfurt in 1716. Astute businessman that he was, Brockes found a clever way of getting around the ban on charging admission to a church. He put texts of the passion on sale and made their purchase obligatory. The settings by J. Mattheson in 1719 and G.H. Stölzel in 1725 were followed by numerous other later settings: J.F. Fasch (c1730), C.G. Fröber, J. Schuback, P. Steininger, J.B.C. Freißlich, and J.C. Bachofen. J.S. Bach employed some passages from the poem in his Johannes-Passion (BWV 245) and even performed G.P. Telemann's setting of the Brockes-Passion.

The story of the re-discovery of Stölzel's Brockes-Passion is somewhat peculiar:
The years following Stölzel's death posed great dangers for the transmission of his works. The next generation of composers in the 18th century often regarded his style as old-fashioned and were convinced that they could do everything much better. So why keep this old musical junk around? That must have been what was thought of his work in Gotha: almost nothing by him housed there managed to survive. That the Brockes-Passion was able to survive is something that we owe to a fortunate series of circumstances.
Stölzel sent a copy of the passion to Sonderhausen, presumably in 1735. After several performances at the court there (such as is indicated by the parts, some of which have come down to us in multiple copies), it was stored away with numerous other compositions by him in a container. The container ended up behind the organ, and soon nobody remembered that it was there. It was not until 1870 that the court organist Heinrich Frankenberger and the later Bach biographer Philipp Spitta rediscovered it. Another hundred years would go by before a musicologist would take a closer look at Stölzel. Fritz Hennenberg's dissertation of 1965 includes a catalogue of Stölzel's cantatas and makes some remarks about the passion. In 1996 Ludger Rémy undertook a closer examination of the sources and did some research into the background of the Gotha passion performances. After some 250 years the passion was performed again for the first time in 1997.

In the personal foreword to his recording of Stölzel's Brockes-Passion (CPO, 1998), Ludger Rémy writes:
"When I read the first pages of the score manuscript from Sondershausen, I was overcome by all sorts of emotions and felt no little shock. Here was a work that had been lying dormant for over 250 years, and it had an inner strength and power to it that have continued to hold me under their spell ever since then. Incredible music...and after reading it I was a changed man.
Ever since then I hove regarded the Brockes Passion by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel as one of the most moving and genuinely human pieces of music that I have ever performed or had the good fortune to hear, and I reckon Stölzel among the truly great masters of the Central German Baroque, one who is perhaps even superior to most other composers of those times in his effect on heart and soul. I believe that the helpless silence and perplexity of humanity in face of the unchangingness of existence has only rarely found such eloquent expression in music."

And what about the music and recording of Stölzel's Brockes-Passion, the raison d'être of mentioning it here?

From the captivating and mesmerizing opening chorus, through a chain of 61 consecutive movements, including interspersion of melodious and imaginative recitatives, heart-rending and beautiful if sometimes too brief arias, chorales, and powerful and impressive turbae choruses, you are easily grasped by this sublime work. When it is finished the only thing you want is listening to it all over again. Although this Passion is quite different from the much more familiar Passions of Bach, it should be said to its credit, that it does not stand in their shadow. Stölzel creates his own unique world, full of charm, beauty and drama. He describes Jesus's suffering in a personal penetrating and moving way. You are reminded of Bach only in some of chorales, which havbeen used also by Bach. On the other hand, Stölzel's original treatment of the chorales only emphasizes the differences between him and Bach.

The conductor Ludger Rémy uses a first-rate period-instrument small ensemble, good chamber choir and a superb roster of vocal soloists; some of them are familiar from recordings of Bach's vocal works. Among them are soprano Dorothee Mields, with angelic voice and dramatic expression, the earthier and no-less impressive soprano Constanze Backes, the native-sounding strong-voiced counter-tenor Henning Voss, the tenors Knut Schoch (who sang the lion's share of tenor parts in Leusink's Bach cantata cycle) as the Evangelist, and Andreas Post (whom I prefer) in most of the arias, and the dignified, authoritative and reliable as ever Klaus Mertens (who sang all the bass parts in Koopman's Bach cantata cycle) as Jesus.

There is nothing that should have improved is this only recording of Stölzel's Brockes-Passion. However, I wonder why has not any other conductor took upon himself recording this work since 1997. There are 174 recordings of Bach's Matthäus-Passion, 153 recordings of his Johannes-Passion and only one recording of Stölzel's Brockes-Passion. I do not know to whom should I address this request, but I would like to hear more recordings of the latter. The work definitely deserves it and you deserve hearing it.

Further reading on the BCW:
Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel biography: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Stolzel-Gottfried-Heinrich.htm
Comprehensive discography of G.H. Stölzel's vocal works: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Stolzel-Vocal.htm
[The recording of the Brockes-Passion is No. V-2]
Discussions of Stölzel & Bach: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Stolzel-Gen1.htm
Barthold Heinrich Brockes biography & Brockes-Passion: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Brockes-Barthold-Heinrich.htm
Gotha: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Tour/Gotha.htm
Ludger Rémy biography: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Bio/Remy-Ludger.htm

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 14, 2010):
Aryeh Oron wrote
< If this lead you to the assumption that Stölzel might have written more good music, you would not be mistaken. Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (1690-1747) was the Kapellmeister of the court at Gotha from 1729 until his death in 1749. He also wrote for Sonderhausen. He was a very prolific composer: his lifetime corpus includes seven passions and 12 complete annual cantata cycles as well as cantatas to secular texts. According to reliable sources he composed at least 900 cantatas, and about 500 hundreds of these have come down in full. He also wrote much instrumental music. According to sad circumstances about half of Stölzel's output has not survived, including 80 orchestral suites and 4 operas. As with Bach, I believe that we should be grateful for what has survived instead of being sad of what we lost. Among the Stölzel's survived works we have gems as the Brockes-Passion.
The years following
Stölzel's death posed great dangers for the transmission of his works. The next generation of composers in the 18th century often regarded his style as old-fashioned and were convinced that they could do everything much better. So why keep this old musical junk around? That must have been what was thought of his work in Gotha: almost nothing by him housed there managed to survive. That the Brockes-Passion was able to survive is something that we owe to a fortunate series of circumstances. >
First all, a million thanks for Aryeh's contribution on Stölzel, one of the greatest composers of cantatas during the baroque. As alluded in post, most of Stölzel's music was lost. The finger can be squarely placed on Georg Benda, who was the court music director immediately after Stölzel's death in 1749. It appears Benda knowingly stored Stölzel's music manuscripts in the Gotha castle's roof under extremely poor conditions. It's unclear if the Gotha court knew about this shabby treatment of such a treasure--after all, they had paid for it twice--first by virture of Stölzel's salary for nearly 25 years, and immediately after his death, the manuscript collection was purchased from estate as a gesture of kindness to his widow and children. Benda detailed this in a disposition filed on behalf of the Graupner estate's lawsuit against the Langrave of Darmstadt-- in that case the entire manuscript collection was seized by the court immediately after Graupner's death with no payment.

Thanks again Aryeh for bringing Stölzel's music to the BCW!

William Hoffman wrote (January 16, 2010):
Brockes Passion

While the Brockes Passion versions were quite popular at the beginning, they suffered as all church music did in the 19th century. Today the problem is short-sighted scholars and conductors whose basic attitude is: We have the >SMP and >SJP, that´s more than enough.

There are a handful of versions of the big 4 settings of Handel, Telemann, Stölzel and Keiser. All have incredible merits, plus Mattheson´s own setting and his ominbus 1723 pasticcio of his, Telemann, Keiser, and Handel -- mostly Telemann. Note the date.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 16, 2010):
William Hoffman wrote:
< There are a handful of versions of the big 4 settings of Handel, Telemann, Stölzel and Keiser. All have incredible merits, plus Mattheson´s own setting and his ominbus 1723 pasticcio of his, Telemann, Keiser, and Handel -- mostly Telemann. Note the date. >
René Jacobs / Harmonia Mundi released last year a beautiful recording of the Telemann setting, but very oddly-- some of the most beautiful arias were cut in an effort to get the music on two CDs, a move that baffled many reviewers. But it is still worth a listen if you aren't familiar with this piece!

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 16, 2010):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Telemann's version of Brockes-Passion was probably performed by J.S. Bach..
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Telemann-Brockes-Passion.htm
Perhaps it should say something about its merits.
AFAIK, the McGegan's recording is complete.
I have to put my hands on these two recordings (-:

Glen Armstrong wrote (January 16, 2010):
[To Aryeh Oron] I see the McGegan is discontinued. Thanks to Kim for pointing out the incompleteness of the Jacob's version: 52 tracks as opposed to 84 from McGegan! Any knowledge of the latter, Kim?

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 16, 2010):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< Telemann's version of Brockes-Passion was probably performed by J.S. Bach..
See:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Telemann-Brockes-Passion.htm >
This page provides links to a very interesting WIKI page on the Telemann Passions:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_Philipp_Telemann%27s_Passions

Telemann's plan for his Passions was extraordinarily consistent. Although there are quite a few missing setting, he systematically composed settings of the Passions in the canonical order of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John from 1722 - 67. Now that's a well-regulated church music!

Did Leipzig have this same prescribed four-year sequence or was Bach free to choose the Gospel? (the latter seems unlikely to me). Does anyone have Stiller to hand to check?

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 16, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< This page provides links to a very interesting WIKI page on the Telemann Passions:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_Philipp_Telemann%27s_Passions >
Written by yours truly ;) My good friend Johannes Pausch has edited a lot of the late Telemann passions and they are available in modern performing editions from his own web boutique.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 16, 2010):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Written by yours truly ;) >
Bravo!

 

Brockes Passion

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (August 8, 2010):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
<< Telemann's version of Brockes-Passion was probably performed by J.S. Bach.
See:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Telemann-Brockes-Passion.htm >>
>
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< This page provides links to a very interesting WIKI page on the Telemann Passions:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_Philipp_Telemann%27s_Passions
Telemann's plan for his Passions was extraordinarily consistent. Although there are quite a few missing setting, he systematically composed settings of the Passions in the canonical order of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John from 1722 - 67. Now that's a well-regulated church music!
Did
Leipzig have this same prescribed four-year sequence or was Bach free to choose the Gospel? (the latter seems unlikely to me). Does anyone have Stiller to hand to check? >
Douglas Cowling wrote:
"Did Leipzig have this same prescribed four-year sequence or was Bach free to choose the Gospel?"
I answer thusly:

First, my apologies for being so late with this. So much has happened in the last couple years.

It is interesting that you bring up Hamburg traditions and ask if Leipzig had similar traditions.

As far as I know, there are two different and diametrically opposite principles operating here. Here is a brief synopsis of both:

Principle 1 (which we shall call the "Hamburg principle"): The Passion (or Passion Oratorio, depending on the case) was actually NOT performed on Good Friday in the main churches (the ones that Telemann had responsibility for the music), but rather throughout the Lenten season (from Thursday after Judica Sunday through Good Friday, the secondary churches would perform Passion music almost daily) in the following order:

1.) Invocavit Sunday (Petriskirche)

2.) Reminiscere Sunday (Nikolaikirche)

3.) Oculi Sunday (none performed--this day was traditionally reserved for installation music [Juraten-Einfuehrungsmusik] at the Michaeliskirche)

4.) Laetere Sunday (Katherinenkirche)

5.) Judica Sunday (Jakobiskirche)

6.) Palmarum (Palm Sunday) (Michaeliskirche)

This info I got from the Preface: Passions from my copy of the CPE Bach Complete Works edition of his Matthaeus-Passion H. 782 (1769).

Passions were traditionally in Canonical order (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)--there is still some debate as to why Emanuel Bach chose to write his first Hamburg Passion according to St. Matthew, thus making it out of sync with the state of affairs in Hamburg at the time (he should have composed a setting of the St. John Passion instead, as the last one performed before he came to Hamburg was a repeat performance of the last St. Luke Passion of Telemann.).

Principle 2 (which we shall call the "Leipzig principle"): The text of the Passion would have been selected by Bach after he ascertained from the Sexton and the preacher (Pfarrherr) of whichever church (the Thomaskirche or the Nikolaikirche) would hold the Good Friday Vespers service (during which the Passion setting for the year would be performed) what Passion Gospel would be presented that year. Unlike Hamburg (which did not hold a Good Friday Vespers service per se), Leipzig had a period during which no music outside of simple chorales would be sung (a Tempus clausum period) which extended throughout Lent (from Invocavit Sunday through Judica Sunday), with the exception of the times when the Marian feast of the Annunciation (25 March) fell in Lent. This is (I think) one of the reasons why the Johannes-Passion BWV 245 was presented in two consecutive years (1724 and 1725), albeit in different formats.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (August 8, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< This page provides links to a very interesting WIKI page on the Telemann Passions:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_Philipp_Telemann%27s_Passions
Telemann's plan for his Passions was extraordinarily consistent. Although there are quite a few missing setting, he systematically composed settings of the Passions in the canonical order of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John from 1722 - 67. Now that's a well-regulated church music! >
Just wanted to interject that Telemann's grandson Georg Michael Telemann may had a role in so many of the early passion settings missing. Jurgen Neubacher's research indicates G.M. Telemann was responsible for the destruction of entire cantata cycles prior to 1740, because they were too old fashioned for GMT to use in his capacity as music director of the Riga cathedral. What music GMT didn't throw out, some pieces were literally sliced up and cut and pasted into hodge podge pieces, including some Passion settings. I would assume this happened with the passion settings as well. Iroinically, Benda was saving Stölzel's settings of the passions and large collections of his cantatas precisely because of the quality of the "old style" (i.e. fugal/contrapunctal). It's really odd how much what was considered worthless and old fashioned could vary from place to place and by music director.

 

Brockes Passion

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (September 25, 2010):
William Hoffman wrote (January 16, 2010):
< While the Brockes Passion versions were quite popular at the beginning, they suffered as all church music did in the 19th century. Today the problem is short-sighted scholars and conductors whose basic attitude is: We have the SMP and SJP, that´s more than enough.
There are a handful of versions of the big 4 settings of
Handel, Telemann, Stölzel and Keiser. All have incredible merits, plus Mattheson´s own setting and his ominbus 1723 pasticcio of his, Telemann, Keiser, and Handel -- mostly Telemann. Note the date. >
Actually, the big 4 settings are: Keiser, Telemann, Handel, and Mattheson. The Stölzel setting dates from 1725 (2 years after the Mattheson setting).

Ed Myskoweski wrote (September 25, 2010):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] Proposed compromise: call it the Big V and include both Stölzel and Mattheson.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (September 25, 2010):
[To Ed Myskowski] OH absolutely. Stölzel is a musical god worthy of that inclusion ;)

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (September 26, 2010):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] I, too, think that Stölzel's setting is excellent and worthy of inclusion. The others are, however, (at least in my opinion) rightly called the "big 4" for the following reasons: in one way or another, each composer (Keiser, Telemann, Handel, and Mattheson) are associated with Hamburg and with Brockes himself, and all four were written right about the time of the different editions of the original text (original writing and printing of text 1712, revision and editions in 1715 and 1725).

William Hoffman wrote (September 26, 2010):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] William Hoffman replies:
It appears that Mattheson after Keiser (1712) encouraged Telemann (1716) and Handel (1716-18) to compose Brockes Passions. He compose his own in 1718 after the three others and presented all four in 1719. His omnibus pasticcio of 1723 relies heavily on Telemann, then Handel and Keiser, but only five of the some 125 numbers are by Mattheson. Thus, by his own hand, Mattheson is not in a league with the others.

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 26, 2010):
William Hoffman wrote:
< It appears that Mattheson after Keiser (1712) encouraged Telemann (1716) and Handel (1716-18) to compose Brockes Passions. >
Has anyone heard any of the Brockes Passions by Mattheson, Keiser or Telemann in performance? I've been involved in performances of the Handel and have to admit that, except for two or three movements, it's an extraordinarily ordinary and unengaging work. It's hard to believe that the same composer would write "Dixit Dominus" and "La Resurresione" four years later. Was Bach's adaptation of the Brockes libretto a judgment on its dramatic worth? Did the other composers write "better" settings?

Glen Armstrong wrote (September 26, 2010):
[To Douglas Cowling] I see from Amazon.Fr that there is one 2-CD version of Keiser's Brockes Passion available. The CPO CD was withdrawn for copyright reasons. Now, the rub: 800 Euros translates to over $1000! Any takers? One site calls it "...a valuable collectible..." That sounds about right.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (September 25, 2010):
[To Glen Armstrong] I can't recall but it's either the Keiser or Mattheson Brockes Passion that uses an obbligato glockenspiel during the crucifixion scene.

Ed Myskowski wrote (September 28, 2010):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< I can't recall but it's either the Keiser or Mattheson Brockes Passion that uses an obbligato glockenspiel during the crucifixion scene. >
Presumably some sort of analogy with the hammering of nails? I am not sure whether to laugh or cry!

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (September 28, 2010):
[To Ed Myskowski] No, I was wrong, it's Mattheson's setting (not Keiser), and he uses the obbligato glockenspiel during a chorale set as a Menuet.

It's available from www.jpc.de in Germany:
http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/art/Johann-Mattheson-Brockes-Passion/hnum/7979860

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 28, 2010):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Funny, I immediately thought it must be used as a funeral bell, as in "Schlage Doch Gewünste Stunde" (BWV 53).

 

Brockes-Passion - The Complete Picture ?

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 2, 2010):
Following recent discussions of the Brockes-Passions, I have created a page for the various musical settings of the Brockes' poem.
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Brockes-Passion.htm
The page contains the various discussions, as well as a list of all known musical settings, arranged more or less chronologically.
The composer name is linked to his bio page on the BCW (about Paul Steiniger or Steininger I have found very little) and the work title is linked to a dedicated page on the BCW with details of the work and its known recordings.

The versions by Keiser, Telemann, Handel and Mattheson were performed in Hamburg in 1719, 1722, 1723 and 1730 in series of passion performances, with the Brockes text being presented for artistic comparison in four different settings on a series of four evenings. This might be the reason for naming them "The Big 4".
I am not aware of an attempt to re-create this experience in modern times. Neither am I aware of a performance/recording (or even of a performing edition) of the musical settings of the lesser known composers in our time.

The versions by Telemann and Handel were performed in Leipzig by J.S. Bach, who also used some passages from the Brockes' text in Johannes-Passion BWV 245.

Any info which would make the picture more complete and accurate would be most welcome.

William Hoffman wrote (October 3, 2010):
The following attachment is from my BCW Article: Literary Origins of Bach’s St. John Passion: 1704-1717

Brockes Passion

The Brockes Passion oratorio, written in 1712 and initially set to music by Keiser, was the other formative influence in Bach’s St. John Passion. The Brockes epic drama text formed the basis of six arias, one arioso and the closing chorus in the first presentation in 1724. The naturalistic, pietistic, graphic texts furnished Bach with dramatic and contemplative commentary on the story of the suffering and death of Jesus. The text by Barthold Heinrich Brockes is entirely poetic, paraphrasing passages from all four Passion accounts, with appropriate commentary. It is known as a “summa” Passion treatment and includes the so-called Seven Last Words of Christ from the Cross. Three are from John, three from Luke, and one from both Matthew and Mark.

Father forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).
Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43).
Woman, behold your son: behold your mother (John 19:26-27).
Eli Eli lama sabachthani? ("My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?", Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34).
I thirst (John 19:28).
It is finished (John 19:30).
Father, into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46)

The Brockes Passion text was set to music by at least 10 German composers and was reprinted in numerous editions. Its 117 movements involve choruses, recitatives, ariosi, arias, accompanied recitatives (allegorical soliloquies), and chorales. The characters include the Evangelist or Narrator, Jesus, Pilate, Ciaphas, Peter, James, John, Judas, and Mary as well as the Three Maids, the Centurion, and an Armed Servant. In addition there are four allegorical figures (all sopranos): the Daughter of Zion, and three Faithful Souls, added by Brockes. The Passion story is divided into nine sections:
Part 1: The Last Supper, Movements Nos. 1-9; Dialogue Between Jesus and His Disciples, Jesus Prays (Nos. 10-33); Peter’s Denial and Repentance (Nos. 34-43); Jesus Appears Before the Council of the High Priests; Judas’ Despair, Repentance, and Death (Nos. 44-52).
Part 2: Jesus Is Condemned (Nos. 53-82); The Crucifixion (Nos. 83-92); The Death of Jesus (Nos. 93-110); and After the Death of Jesus (Nos. 111-118).
BCW:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Brockes-Barthold-Heinrich.htm

Like the traditional Passion Play at Oberammergau, the Brockes Passion has three acts and focuses on Jesus’ trials and Peter’s Denial, Nos. 34-82, leading to the Crucifixion, also known as the Road to Calvary (Golgatha) or the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross). The large middle act contains four of the nine sections in 48 movements with 312 lines of verse; the first act, until Jesus’ arrest in the garden, runs 184 lines; and the final act of the Via Crucis and conclusion occupy 185 lines. Like the Passion Play, the “Brockes (poetic) narrative is oriented toward John’s telling of the story,” says Daniel R. Melamed, Hearing Bach’s Passions (2005: 92).

Brockes Passion Oratorio Settings

The best known of the settings of the Brockes Passion are from Keiser, Telemann, Handel, and Mattheson. It appears that Mattheson encouraged Telemann and Handel to provide versions. Mattheson then performed all four in Holy Week of 1719 in the refectory of Hamburg Cathedral. Telemann’s faithful version using all of the movements remained the most popular until his own lyrical setting, Seliges Erwägen, focusing on the sufferings and death of Jesus, became in the mid 1720s the most popular performed Passion oratorio until 1755. It was replaced by C.H. Graun’s Passion cantata, Der Tod Jesu, which was performed for more than 100 years, finally replaced in the 1880s by Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, as well as Handel’s Messiah.

1. 1712, Keiser. Der für die Sünde der Welt gemartete und sterbene Heiland Jesus (Jesus martyred and dying for the sins of the world): “Mich vom Stricke meiner Sünden zu entbinden” (To deliver me from the bonds of my sins); first “Brockes Passion oratorio, text Barthold Heinrich Brockes (presented in Brockes’ Hamburg home to large invited audience), Lenten Season 1712. Repeated Lenten Season 1713, Brockes home; adds Nos. 68-69, Faithful Soul recitative and aria; publisher Roger Brown. Repeated Holy Week 1719 (no specific date or venue); repeated 4/2/1721 (Reventher Dom); 36 movements in omnibus Brockes Pasticcio Passion, March 22, 26, 28 & 30, 1722; possibly repeated Lenten Season 1723; and repeated Holy Week 1727 with Overture to Handel’s opera Admeto. All 117 Brockes movements set to music.
BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Keiser-Reinhard.htm

2. 1716, Telemann, TWV 5:1. First performance during Lenten Season, Frankfurt am Main Barfüßerkirche; repeated Lenten Season 1717 or 1718, Hamburg and Augsburg (no date or venue, source Telemann 1718 autobiography); repeated Good Friday, March 26, 1717 in Leipzig New Church (first Leipzig performance of a Passion oratorio, Gottfried Vogler, organist & music director); repeated April 4 (Tuesday in Holy Week) 1719, Hamburg Reventher Dom; repeated March 21, 1720, Hamburg Drillhaus; 60 movements in omnibus Brockes Pasticcio Passion, March 22, 26, 28 & 30, 1722 (Hamburg Cathedral); possibly repeated Lenten Season 1723; repeated March 28 (Wednesday in Holy Week), 1725, Hamburg Drillhaus; repeated March 25 (Holy Thursday), 1728, Hamburg Drillhaus. Possibly performed by Bach in Leipzig in 1739 (BCW). All 117 Brockes movements set to music.
BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Telemann-Brockes-Passion.htm

3. 1716-18. Georg Frideric Handel (1685-1759, HWV 48. No performances documented until April 3 (Tuesday in Holy Week), 1719, Hamburg Reventher Dom; repeated March 20, 1721, Hamburg Drillhaus; repeat Hamburg performance Lenten Season 1722 (no date or venue cited); 15 movements in omnibus Brockes Pasticcio Passion, March 22, 26, 28 & 30, 1722 (no Hamburg venue cited); possible Hamburg repeated Lenten Season 1723; repeated Good Friday, March 26, 1723 at Lüneberg; repeated April 5, 1724, Hamburg Drillhaus. Handel made slight word modifications in the Brockes text, and set only 106 movements, omitting occasional repetitive trio-aria commentaries, such as No. 107, Faithful Soul aria. Handel also set the Faithful Soul aria, No. 109 as a duet for two sopranos, and the Centurion tenor aria, No. 113, “How can it be that when the sky weeps,” for the Faithful Soul soprano. Handel provides only the first stanza of the three-stanza concluding chorale, No. 117, “I am a member of your body.”
BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Handel-Brockes-Passion.htm

4. 1717-19. Johann Friedrich Fasch (1866-1758). Brockes Passion; 1717-19, Greiz; only 30 movements. includes two Brockes chorales: 6. “Ach wie hungert meine gemute”; and 25. “O Menschenkind, nur deine Sünd.” The manuscript in the Leipzig Municipal Library may date to c. 1760 and lists the chorales (Nos. 13 and 14) as dividing the Passion into two parts.
BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Fasch-Johann-Friedrich.htm

5. 1718. Johann Mattheson (1681-1764). Brockes Passion, First performance, Palm Sunday, April 10, 1718, Hamburg Domkirche (Director of Music, 1715-28). Repeated March 20, 1719, St. Marie-Magdalene Church; 5 movements in omnibus Brockes Pasticcio Passion, 1722.

6. Brockes Pasticcio Passion; March 22, 26, 28 & 30, 1722 (Hamburg Cathedral). All 117 Brockes movements set to music of Telemann, Handel, Keiser, and Mattheson; selected by Mattheson. Source: Henning Frederichs, Das Verhältnis von Text und Musik in den Brockespassionen Keisers, Händels, Telemanns und Matthesons: Mit einer Einführung in ihr Enstehungs- und Rezeptionsgeschichte sowie den Bestand ihrer literischen und musickalischen Quellen; Musikverlag Emil Katzbichler, München-Salzburg, 1975.

7. 1725 Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (1690-1749). Brockes Passion, Lenten Season 1725, Gotha Castle Chapel at Friedenstein Castle. Adds three traditional chorales to the five Brockes chorale movements; abridged version.
BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Stolzel-Gen1.htm

William Hoffman wrote (October 3, 2010):
Doug Cowling asks:
< Has anyone heard any of the Brockes Passions by Mattheson, Keiser or Telemann in performance? I've been involved in performances of the Handel and have to admit that, except for two or three movements, it's an extraordinarily ordinary and unengaging work. It's hard to believe that the same composer would write "Dixit Dominus" and "La Resurresione" four years later. Was Bach's adaptation of the Brockes libretto a judgment on its dramatic worth? Did the other composers write "better" settings? >
Will Hoffman replies:
Telemann is performed a few times each year in Germany and probably has the most effective music. Various Handel commentators find his setting to be rather perfunctory. It was mostly a parody lode. Then again, in comparison with the Latin Dixit Dominus and Resurrecione, composed c.1708, let alone the great later oratorios, it can't stand up. The Brockes Passion of Telemann was the most popular, from 1712 to 1724, replaced by Telemann's "Seliges Erwaegan," replaced by Graun's "Der Tod Jesu," c.1752. The glockenspiel is found in Mattheson.

 

BCW: Brockes-Passion

Aryeh Oron wrote (June 2, 2011):
The text of Brockes-Passion was used by J.S. Bach in several movements of his Johannes-Passion. Originally published in 1712 this text was very popular in the first half of the 18th century and was set to music by many composers.
I have prepared a page on the BCW in which all the musical settings of Brockes-Passion are listed as well as all known performances of the various settings up to 1750.
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Brockes-Passion-List.htm
The page includes links to the composer bios and to all known recordings of each musical settings.
I was greatly helped by William Hoffman, Kim Patrick Clow, Daniel R. Melamed and Johannes Pausch.

 

Johann Mattheson - Brockes-Passion

Charlers Francis wrote (September 29, 2012):
Johann Mattheson's setting of the Brockes-Passion is of interest because of its extensive use of bell effects: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/BachsBells.pdf and also with regard to his writings on choir size: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/MatthesonChoirSize.pdf

The text of the Brockes-Passion from the Hamburg poet Barthold Heinrich Brockes dates from 1712: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Brockes-Passion.htm

Mattheson's setting was performed in Hamburg on Good Friday, 1719: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Mattheson-Brockes-Passion.htm

In his writings of 1728, Mattheson lobbied for 24 musicians or more, observing that the 17 churches in Hamburg had only five or six vocalists between them.

There is one available recording of this work (Accademia filarmonica Köln auf Originalinstrumenten, Motettenchor Speyer, Leitung: Marie Theres Brand) with the following resources:

2 Sopran
1 Altus
2 Tenor
1 Bass
5 Chorsolisten
Motettenchor
4 Blockflöte
1 Oboe
1 Traverso
1 Barockmusett
2 Cembalo
1 Carillon
5 Violin
2 Viola
1 Violoncello
1 Violine

Clearly Mattheson had all six Hamburg vocalists available! With the indicated instrumental resources we already have 25 musicians, and must then apparently add an additional 5 Chorsolisten and an entire "Motettenchor". So there is clearly a huge discrepancy between this modern conception and Mattheson's writings about the available vocalists in Hamburg.

For research purposes I have temporarily made available some audio excerpts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pns_o2f9M-o

 

Barthold Heinrich Brockes: Short Biography | Brockes-Passion - Musical Settings & Performances | Brockes-Passion - Discussions
J.F. Fasch:
Brockes-Passion, FWV F:1 | G.F. Handel: Brockes Passion, HWV 48 | R. Keiser: Brockes-Passion | J. Mattheson: Brockes-Passion | G.H. Stölzel: Brockes-Passion | G.P. Telemann: Brockes Passion, TWV 5:1 | J.S. Bach: Johannes-Passion BWV 245

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Last update: ýDecember 28, 2012 ý17:22:32