A part of Johann Sebastian Bach’s musical duties in Leipzig was to present an annual setting of the passion for Good Friday Vespers. One such work was the Markuspassion, performed in 1731. Although the score of this companion work to the Matthäuspassion and Johannespassion has been lost, the original text of the Markuspassion is extant. Bach frequently made use of the parody technique in his compositions. This practice consisted of adapting existing music to a new text that was based on the rhyme scheme of the original one, resulting in two compositions essentially sung to the same music, barring a number of enforced changes. This particular feature of Bach’s compositional technique makes it possible that the lost music originally contained in the Markuspassion could be discovered within his oeuvre. In the late 19th century, Bach scholars began to research the possibility of reconstructing the Mi>Markuspassion, recognizing that it may have contained music parodied from other compositions basing, to a large extent, their research on textual comparison. Several attempts at reconstruction have been made between 1964 and 2009, resulting in at least 18 different versions of the Markuspassion. Some of reconstructors abandon the original structure of this work, others re-use music that Bach could not plausibly have chosen as a parody base for this work, while still others include large amounts of music composed by contemporaries of Bach. This has lead to the question: To what extent are the existing reconstructions of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Markuspassion historically justified, and what sources have reconstructors utilized in order to achieve performable editions? Five of the reconstructions have been carefully studied in this regard, leading to the conclusion that they are all worthwhile scholarly endeavours with their own merits, but that none of them can be performed as the definitive Bach Markuspassion. This study also contains recommendations to musicologists interested in this project, conductors wanting to perform one of these works and suggestions for a theoretical reconstruction combining material from existing attempts.
Dissertation (MMus)--University of Pretoria, 2011.