Bach vs. Handel: Oratorio edition

3389-crucifixion_hans_baldung_grien
Crucifixion (Hans Ballung Grien, c. 1507)

Bach composed two settings of the Passion story (the biblical narrative of the suffering and death of Christ), one from the Gospel of Matthew, the other from the Gospel of John. These large-scale oratorios were meant to be performed during Holy Week, when there was a ban on opera performances. (In fact, oratorio developed as a Lenten form of entertainment: its subjects were biblical, and it did not use costumes or staging, so it was permissible to perform and attend an oratorio during Lent.) Bach’s two passion settings are intensely dramatic — almost operatic, in fact. They have even been staged in recent years.

Handel’s great oratorios have also been staged in recent years.

In other news, the Music History class at the University of Trinidad makes a Baroque mockumentary every year. This is their most recent one.

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