Emily Dunlap

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Music Education


Beth Wiemann

Committee Members

Jack Burt, Stuart Marrs, Margaret Killinger

Graduation Year

May 2023

Publication Date

Spring 2023


The St. John and St. Matthew Passions, based on the Gospels of the same names, are the only two existing passions by German composer Johann Sebastian Bach that have survived from the Baroque music world. However, the St. Matthew Passion is more well-known and recognized than the St. John Passion. Why is that? One of the reasons why this may be the case is because the St. Matthew Passion is a larger, more extensive work compared to the St John Passion in relation to its parts. The St Matthew Passion is equipped with an orchestra, a double choir, a children’s choir, and soloists, while the St. John Passion is written for a small string orchestra, pairs of flutes and oboes, and a four-part choir with soloists. Another reason the St. Matthew Passion may be more well-known is that it was composed at a more established time in Bach’s life and career, while the St. John Passion was written within his first year of being the director of church music in Leipzig and was re-written on several occasions. In my thesis, I plan to further analyze and compare these two pieces as to why one is more well-known than the other, bringing out similarities and differences between the two pieces and talking about the characteristics of both pieces. I also plan to integrate and analyze the two Gospels these two passions are based on, as the stories found in the Gospels are the same or similar text found in the Passions.