This is bold and timely. Johann Sebastian Bach used hateful words about the Jews in St John’s Passion and elsewhere. Often, the worst epithets are accompanied by the loveliest music.
So was Bach an early Nazi?
Music director Franz Welser-Möst has convened a debate, long overdue, in Cleveland.
Press release follows.
CLEVELAND – On Sunday March 5, 2017 at 3:00 p.m., Cleveland Orchestra Music Director Franz Welser-Most convenes a panel of guest speakers at The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood (26000 Shaker Boulevard, Beachwood, OH) to probe the question “Is Bach’s St. John Passion anti-Semitic?”, a lingering claim that surrounds this seminal work. This extraordinarily moving and achingly beautiful telling of the Crucifixion is perhaps Bach’s most daring, forceful, and poetic composition. The panel will explore the context of European history, music, and religion that influenced the creation of Bach’s masterpiece and the intersections of meaning, message, and intent.
In addition to Welser-Möst, the panel includes Rabbi Roger C. Klein, Associate Rabbi at The Temple-Tifereth Israel, and Michael Marissen, Professor Emeritus of Music at Swarthmore College and author of the newly released book, Bach and God. The conversation will be moderated by David J. Rothenberg, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Music, Case Western Reserve University. The event is free, but tickets are required and may be reserved online at www.maltzmuseum.org or by calling the Maltz Museum at 216-593-0575.
Following the March 5 concert preview panel discussion, Franz Welser-Mӧst will lead The Cleveland Orchestra in performances of Bach’s St. John Passion on March 9, 11 and 12 at Severance Hall.