Taken by a constant stream of crisply laid musical talent, farm-fresh festival hits, and perfectly peeled pop albums, we would almost forget that in previous centuries, humanity has produced some beautiful music as well. Easter is the perfect time to dwell on some of the musical highlights that retell the passion of Jesus Christ.
Wherever your religious roots may lay, the following examples stand as absolute pinnacles of artistic excellence. Listen to our selection of Easter highlights and you will understand why these belong to the most played and reinterpreted musical pieces on earth.
Jesus Christ Superstar
The rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar was written by two British men, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, who were only in their early twenties at the time. Jesus Christ Superstar was first released as a concept album in 1970.
The modern lyrics, hooks and multi-layered compositions turn the rock opera into a truly unique and fresh reconfiguration of the traditional Biblical story. While not everyone appreciated the earthly and human portrayal of the son of God, Jesus Christ Superstar became extraordinarily popular.
St Matthew Passion
The St Matthew Passion is one the most famous (and longest) works by Johann Sebastian Bach. This sacred oratorio was first performed between 1725 and 1729 in Leipzig, Germany. The name already suggests that this piece is based on the gospel according to Saint Matthew.
What makes it special, are the chorales and the arias that serve as a reflection on the biblical story. The texts and the melodies that Bach appropriated for this piece originate from the Lutheran book of hymns and was very well known at the time, because everyone sung these at Sunday mass. Around 300 years after its premiere St Matthew Passion is still one of the most performed oratories in the world.
King’s College Choir
King’s College Choir is a boys choir from Cambridge, constituted in 1441. The choir is one the most important representatives of the British church music tradition and is especially well known for its Christmas mass, first aired by the BBC in 1928.
According to their own words King’s College offers “probably the best musical education available to boys between the ages eight and thirteen”. And noticeably so. The performances of King’s College Choir lift the old hymns and psalms to unprecedented musical heights, which is why they are a delight for both soul and ear.
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