Bach's "St. Matthew Passion" | Markus Rathey and Martin Jean

April 7, 2020

ISM Director Martin Jean and Professor Markus Rathey, author of Bach’s Major Vocal Works: Music, Drama Liturgy, discuss Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and more.


Learn more about Bach’s Major Vocal Works: Music, Drama Liturgy at Yale University Press.

Professor Markus Rathey is a specialist in the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, 17th and 18th century music, and the relationship between music, religion, and politics during the Enlightenment. Rathey studied musicology, Protestant theology, and German in Bethel and Münster. He taught at the University of Mainz and the University of Leipzig and was a research fellow at the Bach-Archiv, Leipzig, before joining the Yale faculty in 2003.

Rathey’s two recent books, both published in 2016, explore some of the most important works by Johann Sebastian Bach. His book Johann Sebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio: Music, Theology, Culture (Oxford University Press 2016) is the first study of this composition in English and it not only sheds new light on Bach’s compositional practice but it also locates the oratorio within the religious and social landscape of eighteenth-century Germany. Rathey’s second recent book is an introduction to Bach’s Major Vocal Works (Yale University Press, 2016). Within the short time since its publication, the book has become a standard work on Bach’s sacred vocal music, praised for its depth but also its accessibility. As one reviewer highlights, it is a prime example for “bringing musicology to the public.” The book also appeared in a Japanese translation in 2017.

Rathey is president of the American Bach Society and past president of the Forum on Music and Christian Scholarship. He currently serves on the editorial boards of BACH: Journal of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute and the Yale Journal for Music and Religion.

ISM Director Martin Jean has performed widely throughout the United States and Europe and is known for his broad repertorial interests. He was awarded first place at the international Grand Prix de Chartres in 1986, and in 1992 at the National Young Artists’ Competition in Organ Performance. A student of Robert Glasgow, in the fall of 1999 he spent a sabbatical with Harald Vogel in North Germany. He has performed on four continents and in nearly all fifty states. In 2001 he presented a cycle of the complete organ works of Bach at Yale, and his compact discs of The Seven Last Words of Christ by Charles Tournemire and the complete Six Symphonies of Louis Vierne, both recorded in Woolsey Hall, have been released by Loft Recordings. Recordings of the organ symphonies and Stations of the Cross of Marcel Dupré are forthcoming on the Delos label. Professor Jean is on the board of directors of Lutheran Music Program.


This conversation is part of a series of talks with ISM faculty and fellows done via Zoom while working from home in spring 2020. You can find all the currently available discussions on the Reflections from Quarantine seriesLook out for more videos as they become available.