Bach did not compose any opera at a time when the genre was very much in vogue. In this, he cannot contrast more with Wagner, mainly known for his operas (or, as some of his mature works later became known, ‘musical dramas’). Unlike Bach who used the Gospel text in his most ambitious works, Wagner wrote both the libretto and the music for each of his works. My father, a composer of classical music, used to say that Wagner’s art predicted cinema.
However, the narrator tells us in the aforementioned documentary that St Matthew Passion has operatic elements. It was music that inspired ‘contrition and remorse’, and it is striking how the pundits of white nationalism don’t want to see the elephant in the room when they agonize to explain how the guilt that currently kills the white man originated. St Matthew Passion lasts an hour and a half, and has twice the choir and orchestra than St John Passion.
Who has hit you
my Savior, and with torments
so harshly abused you?
The narrator tells us: ‘And it’s in that moment that I feel Bach is saying, This suffering is unbearable. We have to stop it. We have to show our sense of moral outrage’.
You know nothing of our sins…
Have mercy my God
for the sake of my tears.
After explaining St Matthew Passion the narrator made the mistake of passing the microphone to a psychologist to ‘psychoanalyse’ Bach. Readers of this site know that I think clinical psychology is pseudoscientific, and it’s not worth adding much here except to say that Freud and his disciples loved to ‘psychoanalyse’ geniuses to feel superior to them (see what I say about the Vienna quack: here).
After the shrink mistake, the narrator tells us that Bach’s obsession with composing religious music was such that, despite his Lutheran background, he composed a large-scale Latin mass for a Catholic court. As the lyrics of one of his last compositions say shortly before Bach died:
Before (((your))) throne now I appear…