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St. John Passion

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Date and time
Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Bach scholars **Robin Leaver** and **Christoph Wolff**, in a discussion moderated by **Ellen Exner** of the New England Conservatory, explore the words and music of J.S. Bach's _St. John Passion_. The musical masterpiece narrates the Biblical story of the crucifixion, capturing the aching sorrow and agony of the event with emotional intimacy and dramatic power. (Image: [Wikimedia Commons/Furfur](https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Johannespassion-top.jpg "St Johns Passion"), image cropped)

Christoph Wolff, born in Solingen, Germany on May 24, 1940, is one of the world's leading scholars on composer J. S. Bach. Educated in Germany, Wolff studied organ and historical keyboard instruments, musicology and art history at the Universities of Berlin, Erlangen, and Freiburg, taking a performance diploma in 1963 and the Dr. Phil. in 1966. He taught the history of music at Erlangen, Toronto, Princeton, and Columbia Universities before joining the Harvard faculty in 1976 as Professor of Music; William Powell Mason Professor of Music, 1985-2002; and Adams University Professor, 2002-. At Harvard he served as Chair of the Music Department (1980-88, 90-91), Acting Director of the University Library (1991-92), and Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (1992-2000). Recipient of various international prizes, several honorary degrees, he holds an honorary professorship at the University of Freiburg and memberships in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften. He currently serves as Director of the Bach-Archiv in Leipzig and President of the Répertoire International des Sources Musicales. He has published widely on the history of music from the 15th to the 20th centuries. "Bach: Essays on His Life and Music" (Cambridge, 1991), "Mozart's Requiem" (Berkeley, 1994), "The New Bach Reader" (New York, 1998), and "Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musicia" (New York, 2000--translated into eight languages) are his most recent books.
Robin A. Leaver, the General Editor of the Yale Journal of Music & Religion, is visiting honorary professor at Queen’s University, Belfast, visiting professor at Yale University, and emeritus professor of sacred music at Westminster Choir College of Rider University. He has also taught liturgical studies at Drew University, Madison, New Jersey, and music history at the Juilliard School, New York City. He studied theology at Trinity College, Bristol, England, and holds a doctorate from the Rijksuniversiteit, Groningen, the Netherlands. Dr. Leaver is a past president of both the Internationale Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Hymnologie and the American Bach Society. He is the author of numerous books, articles. and entries in reference works in the cross-disciplinary areas of liturgy, church music, theology, and hymnology, published on four continents, with significant contributions to Luther, Schütz, and Bach studies. His latest publications include Luther’s Liturgical Music: Principles and Implications (Eerdmans, 2007); Exploring Bach’s B Minor Mass (Cambridge, 2013), which he co-edited with Yo Tomita and Jan Smaczny; articles in the Bach-Jahrbuch (2013); and is the editor the forthcoming Routledge Research Companion to Johann Sebastian Bach. He is also engaged in various projects concerning the connections between music and theology.
Ellen Exner is a specialist in music of the eighteenth century, specifically music of the Bach family. After receiving undergraduate degrees from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in Music History as well as Russian Language and Literature, Exner went on to receive an MA from Smith College and then a PhD in Historical Musicology from Harvard University. Her current book project re-examines the eighteenth-century roots of Mendelssohn’s famous 1829 Berlin performance of J. S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. Exner is actively engaged with Baroque repertory as both a scholar and a performer on historical oboes. She has published critical editions of music by Gottfried August Homilius with Carus-Verlag (Stuttgart) and is finishing work on Emanuel Bach’s 1779 Passion According to St. Luke for the Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: Complete Works Edition. Her research has also appeared in the journals BACH, Eighteenth-Century Music, the New Grove Dictionary of American Music, and in German-language publications dedicated to the most recent scholarship on Georg Philipp Telemann and his contemporaries. Dr. Exner is a member of the Editorial Board of the American Bach Society and serves as Editor of its official newsletter, Bach Notes. She has taught courses on baroque music as well as the history of art song by invitation at Boston University, Harvard University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Following three years as Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina School of Music, she joined the full-time Music History faculty at New England Conservatory in fall of 2015.