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St Matthew Passion

Baroque28 Mar '24 - 30 Mar '24(Past)

Bach specialist John Butt takes the listener on a journey through time to the Leipzig of 1727.


'Leipzig, around the premiere of the St Matthew Passion', answered Bach specialist John Butt when the Guardian asked him where he would like to go by time machine. "That would be fantastic." What the conductor did not say is that he has built such a machine himself already for a long time. Each of his performances of Bach's masterpiece takes the listener on a journey through time to the Leipzig of 1727. 'Magisterial', according to Trouw.

Programme & performers

Bach St. Matthew Passion

ConductorJohn Butt
Carolyn Sampson
Catriona Morison
Sam Boden (evangelist)
Andrew Tortise (aria's)
Bass baritone
Matthew Brook (aria's & Christus)
Laurens Collegium, National Children's Choir

Also this season, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra returns to tell the Easter story through one of the greatest classical works of all time: the St Matthew Passion, also known as Matthäus-Passion, by Johannes Sebastian Bach. The St Matthew Passion was first performed on Good Friday in 1727 and became an important tradition during Easter. This religious celebration of Easter is a true dichotomy between death and life, end and beginning, sorrow and joy.

The birth of tradition

A powerful 3-hour masterpiece tells the story of the last days of Christ's life, performed by solo voices, a double orchestra, and a double choir. This special music leaves no one indifferent. Feelings of love, loss and togetherness are important themes.

 In 1870 the St Matthew Passion made its debut in Rotterdam. Due to the great interest in this piece, more performances followed throughout the country. Eventually, the St Matthew Passion on Good Friday became an annual tradition. Even now, after more than 150 years, the St. Matthew Passion is well attended. Everyone knows this masterpiece, regardless of interest in classical music. The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra is happy to continue this longstanding tradition. 

A story behind the piece

Johann Sebastian Bach wrote the St Matthew Passion during his long tenure as conductor of church music and cantor of the school at Thomaskirch in Leipzig. This late baroque oratorio aimed to present the passion story in music during the vespers services on Good Friday. After its great success, this piece was performed several times during the composer's lifetime. Originally, Bach composed five passions, but only music for St. John and St. Matthew has survived to this day. Don't miss the chance to experience the best of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra's Matthäus-Passion tradition!

The story of
the Lamb who was slain
The performance of the St Matthew Passion with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra is a powerful and moving experience that is definitely worth attending.
Visitor St Matthew Passion 2023

All play dates of St Matthew Passion

Thursday 28 Mar 20247:30 PM
Rotterdamde Doelen (Grand Hall)
Friday 29 Mar 20247:30 PM
Rotterdamde Doelen (Grand Hall)
Saturday 30 Mar 20247:30 PM
Rotterdamde Doelen (Grand Hall)

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