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St Matthew Passion 2023

Baroque06 Apr '23 - 08 Apr '23(Past)

The ultimate masterpiece about love, loss and consolation: music of timeless, universal eloquence.


Peter Dijkstra was eight when he sang in a St Matthew Passion for the first time. He recalls that, for him, the high point of that experience was the choral eruption ‘Lasst ihn, haltet, bindet nicht’ – ‘I knew it was coming and still I got a fright each time’. Nowadays, he is lauded the world over for the dramatic fervour of his Bach interpretations: ‘brisk, gripping, overwhelming,’ in the words of Forbes. Boys’ choir, you are warned!

Programme & performers

St Matthew Passion

ConductorPeter Dijkstra
Jeanine De Bique
Maarten Engeltjes
Tenor (Evangelist)
Maximilian Schmitt
Jan Petryka
Thomas Oliemans
Bass (Christ)
Thomas Stimmel

Choir Laurens Collegium and Netherlands Boy's Choir / choir conductor Wiecher Mandemaker (Laurens Collegium) and Irene Verburg (Netherlands Boy's Choir)

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 Ultimate Masterpiece
About Love, Loss and Comfort
Brisk, gripping, overwhelming.
Forbes about Bach with Peter Dijkstra

All play dates of St Matthew Passion 2023

Thursday 06 Apr 20237:30 PM
RotterdamDe Doelen (Grand Hall)
Friday 07 Apr 20237:30 PM
RotterdamDe Doelen (Grand Hall)
Saturday 08 Apr 20237:30 PM
RotterdamDe Doelen (Grand Hall)

Watch, listen and marvel:

Big orchestra
Big orchestra
Seong-Jin Cho
Big orchestra
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