A&S Forum explores impact of Bach oratorio

The next Arts and Sciences Forum will look at an important moment in classical music history, when a nearly lost masterpiece of Bach’s was performed for the first time in almost 100 years.

Dr. Celia Applegate

Dr. Celia Applegate, a Visiting Fellow at the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University and professor of European and German history at the University of Rochester, will speak on “Sacred Music in Secular Society: The Rediscovery of Bach's ‘St. Matthew Passion’ in 1829" at 12:30 p.m. Dec. 5 in 201 Bowen-Thompson Student Union. The lecture is free.

Felix Mendelssohn's performance of “St. Matthew Passion” in the spring of 1829, before an overflow audience of Berlin artists and intellectuals, Prussian royalty and high state officials and other members of the city's economic, cultural and political elite, brought this musical masterpiece back from the near total oblivion in which it had sunk since Bach's death in 1750—and indeed since its few performances under Bach's own direction in the 1720s and 30s. Applegate’s talk will explore the cultural resonance of this first “modern” performance of the oratorio, with specific attention to the role of the sacred music in a secularizing yet still deeply religious society.

Applegate’s research centers on the culture, society and politics of modern Germany, with particular interest in the history of nationalism and national identity. She recently published the book Bach in Berlin: Nation and Culture in Mendelssohn's Revival of the St. Matthew Passion, from which this talk is drawn. The book won the German Studies Association Prize for the Best Work in German History and Politics published in 2005-06. She is the editor, with Pamela Potter, of Music and German National Identity, and the author of numerous articles on German culture and politics in the 19th and 20th centuries. She is now at work on a major study of the musical culture of modern Germany from the 18th century to the present.

The noon luncheon before the talk will consist of cheeseburger soup, tossed garden salad, fresh fruit, dill vinaigrette pasta salad, dinner rolls, assorted cookies and beverages. The cost is $7.75 (plus tax) per person and can be paid at the door by cash, check (made out to BGSU) or BG1 Card.

Lunch reservations should be made by Dec. 2. Contact Jasmine Schulz at 2-9606 or,

The forum is co-sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Musical Arts.

November 24, 2008