Bach's Apparent Blasphemy

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Bach’s masterpiece displays not only his mastery of the orchestra and choir, but also showcases his intense belief in Christ as savior of the world. Bach was a devout Christian throughout all of his life and this shines through in his work, especially in his more spiritual compositions. In his oratorio three especially distinct features come to the foreground that help to build up its Christianity: one, word-painting, especially in the more intense movements; two, by making the chorus, along with the instruments, more unified or chaotic Bach highlights the calamity or confusion that is happening; third, at the end of the work Bach descends into deeper, darker music that, even without the vocal accompaniment, conveys the gravity of what has …show more content…
In this movement the two false witnesses testify to Jesus’ apparent blasphemy. What is interesting is that while they sing the same words, they sing them according to two slightly different melodies, or themes, giving the entire movement an unsettling feel, almost as if there is something wrong but you don’t know exactly what it is. Bach again masterfully mirrors the Gospel account in musical form. We read in the Gospels that even the chief priests found the witnesses accounts to be slightly falsified and not uniform. And this is exactly what we get in Bach’s score, slightly the same but also very different. Bach adds the counter capstone to this theme by having the chorus, in movement fifty-nine, sing slightly against each other again. But this time, rather than have this serve to illustrate slight differences, Bach uses the differences as a source of concord among the crowd as they accept the bloodguilt of the Crucifixion. If we were to be there, in the crowd, as they condemned Jesus with one voice, we would most likely experience the same thing as a huge crowd ripples with assent to the death of the most Innocent man in …show more content…
Bach is not the composer who separates work from personal life, or religion from profession. Rather, he integrates them so seamlessly that it is hard sometimes to see what is brilliant invention and what is inspired from personal faith. This score is personal for Bach because it is his musical profession of faith. Bach believes that Jesus is the savior of mankind, that he was unjustly condemned and crucified for us. That He suffered the ignominious death on the cross, and that it was only through this death that man could regain the glimmer of hope at re-union with God. It is this firm belief that Bach transcribes into musical form. A deeply meditative piece, a piece that is wide in its range of emotion, a piece that causes us be mournful and apologetic, but at the same time it is a piece with a hidden note of hope and

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