'The Greatest Choral Work that has ever been written': Wellington performances of J. S. Bach's St Matthew Passion, 1899–1941

Owens, Samantha (2014) 'The Greatest Choral Work that has ever been written': Wellington performances of J. S. Bach's St Matthew Passion, 1899–1941. Understanding Bach, 9 75-86.

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Author Owens, Samantha
Title 'The Greatest Choral Work that has ever been written': Wellington performances of J. S. Bach's St Matthew Passion, 1899–1941
Journal name Understanding Bach
ISSN 1750-3078
Publication date 2014-03
Sub-type Article (original research)
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 9
Start page 75
End page 86
Total pages 12
Editor Ruth Tatlow
Yo Tomita
Place of publication Oxford, UK
Publisher Bach Network UK
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Formatted abstract
...Given its massive length, together with the substantial number of instrumentalists required, it is clear that introducing the St Matthew Passion to colonial New Zealand was to be by no means an easy matter. The complexity of Bach’s musical language and its general unfamiliarity to local audiences were further complicating factors. Across the Tasman Sea, in Australia, such difficulties had resulted in an unfortunate premiere given by the Melbourne Philharmonic Society in 1875, with the critic for the Argus newspaper advising the 350 performers involved to rehearse the work ‘systematically for another 12 months’. This paper represents an initial step in addressing the overwhelming absence of Australasia from published scholarship on J. S. Bach reception history...

In examining how this German ‘masterwork’ was successfully introduced to Wellington audiences—to the point where the Schola Cantorum could boast a ‘sell-out’ performance in 1941—a number of issues concerning the early reception of Bach’s music in New Zealand come to the fore. These include the ways in which local perceptions of the St Matthew Passion were largely mediated through the British music scene; the process which saw this lengthy (and difficult) work made palatable to audiences; and the problems caused by its transfer from the church to the concert hall.
Keyword J. S. Bach
St Matthew Passion
Reception history
Wellington, New Zealand
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes An earlier version of this paper was read at the New Zealand Historical Association conference, Past Tensions: Reflections on Making History, University of Waikato, in November 2011.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Music Publications
 
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Created: Thu, 20 Mar 2014, 09:27:18 EST by Dr Samantha Owens on behalf of School of Music