Music was a force of understanding and co-operation between different faiths and ideologies in the courts of two politically astute sixteenth century rulers—Emperor Akbar 1st of India and Elizabeth 1st of England—rulers both known for their use of tolerance as a force to strengthen and build their respective countries into leading forces on an increasingly connected world stage.
“The passion as a music genre achieve prominence in North Germany during the mid-Baroque, though its history extends well back in the Middle Ages, from which time there are examples in plainchant. Bach’s masterpieces are among the last. Individual singers in the St. John Passion take the roles of the characters in the story (Jesus, Pontius Pilate, etc). There is always an angry crowd, the turba judaeorum, urging crucifixion. The evangelist narrates the story. In the Bach passions, the story is told largely in recitative with short interjections by the cours. The aris reflect on the vents that have transpired; the chorales are affirmations of faith from the congregation. What is exceptional about the many chorales is the way bach harmonizes them to cast each text in the atmosphere appropriate to the surrounding drama. Bach wrote these works knowing that he would be able to engage virtuoso instrumentalists for this Easter week performances, such that there is important solo work for gamba, lute, woodwinds, and individual string players.”