St Luke Passion, BWV 246
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The St Luke Passion (German: Lukas-Passion), BWV 246, is a Passion setting formerly attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach. It is included in the BWV catalog under the number 246. Now it appears in the catalogues under the heading apocryphal or anonymous.
A surviving manuscript of the St Luke Passion from about 1730 is partly in Bach's hand, though scholars believe that the music is certainly not his own, but was probably composed by Johann Melchior Molter. Presumably Bach performed it, or intended to perform it, in Leipzig. C. P. E. Bach and Agricola may have mistaken it for a work of Bach's and thus included it in their census. Of course, given his delight in exhaustive cycles, Bach should have composed a St Luke Passion. Apparently J. S. Bach took the anonymous St Luke Passion and arranged it for four voices, chorus, orchestra, and continuo to meet an urgent deadline for Good Friday in 1730.
With regard to the authorship of the passion, Felix Mendelssohn commented in a letter to Franz Hauser who had just paid a large sum of money to purchase the Lukaspassion: "I am sorry to hear you have given so much money for the St. Luke Passion." Mendelssohn repudiated Bach's authorship of the work upon the evidence of a single chorale, 'Weide mich und mach' mich satt' (No. 9). He continued:
"No doubt, as an authentic autograph, it would be worth the price. But it is not by Bach. You ask, 'On what grounds do you maintain your opinion?' I answer, on intrinsic evidence, though it is unpleasant to say so, since it is your property. But just look at the chorale, 'Weide mich und mach' mich satt'! If that is by Sebastian, may I be hanged! It certainly is in his handwriting, but it is too clean. Evidently he copied it. 'Whose is it?' you ask; 'Telemann, or M. Bach, or Altnichol?' Jung Nichol or plain Nichol, how can I tell? It's not by Bach. Probably it is of North German origin." (Terry, 78).
- Melamed, Daniel R. (2005). Hearing Bach's Passions. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-516933-6.
- Terry, Charles (1972). Bach, The Cantatas and Oratorios, The Passions, The Magnificat, Lutheran Masses and Motets. New York: Oxford University Press.