Bach’s Passions and Oratorios: The Life of Christ from a Composer’s Perspective

Class Number: 
D04
June 6-10
10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Class Price: 
$400


This course is now closed to registration.

Johann Sebastian Bach not only composed his two famous passions but he also created large scale oratorios for Christmas, Easter, and ascension day over a span of little more than ten years. This particularly prolific period came at a later point in the composer’s career and coincides with Bach’s increasing interest in and consumption of dramatic music, specifically opera. Explore the musical pillars of Bach’s creative output as he combines the dramatic elements of opera with reflections on the biblical narrative to trace the entire life cycle of Jesus from birth to ascension.”

Texts: Michael Marissen, Bach’s Oratorios: The Parallel German-English Texts with Annotations (Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).  ISBN-10: 0195367170 / ISBN-13: 978-0195367171 (available in YDS Bookstore); Markus Rathey, Bach’s Major Vocal Works: Music, Drama, Liturgy (London/New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016). ISBN-10:   030021720X / ISBN-13:   978-0300217209

Markus Rathey teaches Music history at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and the Divinity School. Trained both at a musicologist and theologian, he aims in his work to build a bridge between music and theology. His most recent books focus on different aspects of Johann Sebastian Bach’s music. In 2016 he published an extensive study of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (Oxford University Press), which explores the musical, cultural, and theological facets of Bach’s piece. In the same year, he also published with Yale University Press an introduction to Bach’s major vocal works. This second book is geared toward a general audience and explores the liturgical and dramatic aspects of his oratorios, passions, and cantatas.

Yale Divinity School


Markus Rathey