The yearly performances of Bach's Matthaeus Passion in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam is dating back to 1899 on an initiative from Willem Mengelberg. The tradition was continued by Eduard van Beinum. From 1961 until 1972 the Passions were conducted by Eugen Jochum.
The years that saw the performances of Bach with Eugen Jochum on the pult were characterized by great tensions in society. Tradition was by definition dirty and unseen and unheard new music by definition historical and revilutionary. Jochum maintained himself appearently without any difficulties. The explanation of this must be sought in his way he musically renewed himself year upon year. He was not a dogmatical conductor but refreshed his ideas continually.
The list of the Bach-Passions conducted by Eugen Jochum in the Concertgebouw Amsterdam:
The AVRO (One of the several Dutch broadcasting companies) recorded integrally several performances. A fragment of the 1970 performance was issued as a bonus to a book about the Dutch performance tradition of the Matthaeus Passion.
The commercial recording of the Matthaeus Passion was done in 1965 with the Johannes Passion following in 1967.
With the last performance of the Matthaeus Passion in 1972 being conducted by Eugen Jochum, the Amsterdam tradition of performances with large chorus and orchestra came to an end. On the photograph below that event is commemorated: Maestro Jochum receives a historical print of Amsterdam upon the occasion.
Eugen Jochum conducted the music of Johann Sebastian Bach out of his religious hearth and with a will to understand and correctly reproduce this unbelievable complicated and beautiful music. The program notes that went with the release of the Philips LP edition of the Matthaeus Passion contained an also essay written by Eugen Jochum himself in which he explains his approach to Bach. Most parts of this essay were also added to the CD re-issue. In 1965, it was not as simple as it is in 1999 to find a way to conduct or play Bach. Anyone in the era of Harnoncourt, Koopman and Brüggen who is thinking that the way in which Eugen Jochum conducted Bach deserves a very critical approach should read this essay, with 1965 in mind. It might surprise him.
Back to Eugen Jochum - Amsterdam Activities - 1963 - 1974
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