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Frank Martin's Golgotha. (Harmonia Mundi)

The Good Friday 5: Musical Passion Stories You Must Hear

Mar 28, 2013

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Tan Dun's Water Passion According to St. Matthew. This 1653 engraving by Rembrandt inspired composer Frank Martin to write his oratorio Golgotha in 1945.

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For Christians around the world, this week, leading up to Easter Sunday, is one of the most meaningful in the religious calendar. The dramatic story of Jesus' final days, as related in the four Gospels of the New Testament, has been meaningful for composers, too, and a rich source for many musical settings of the Passion story. J.S. Bach is still the benchmark when it comes to composing Passions. His St. John Passion and especially St. Matthew Passion continue to loom large over any composer attempting to tell the tale. For the Holy Week, we've picked a few of our favorite musical Passions — four from the 20th and 21st centuries sit alongside Bach's monumental St. Matthew.

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