The Great Passion
December 6, 2021

Book Review

The Great Passion

The Great Passion beautifully imagines a story behind Bach’s writing of the St. Matthew Passion. It explores grief and music, and how music helps to cope with grief—in this case resulting in a masterpiece of musical composition.

In 1727, after the passing of his mother, thirteen-year-old Stefan Silbermann is sent by his father to Leipzig to sing and learn the organ and work with proper musicians. At school, Stefan continues to be grief-stricken. He is homesick and with his red hair he is a target of teasing. Later with his angelic voice and favoritism shown by the school’s cantor, John Sebastian Bach, Stefan becomes also a target of bullying.

Bach’s family takes Stefan under their wing. They show him love which he knew from his mother, but was missing from his father. No matter how crowded Bach’s house is, there is always room for love and showing kindness and charity. The love of Bach’s family shines throughout this story.

As they prepare for the performance of the Passion, the true meaning of passion comes touchingly through the story. When a tragedy strikes the Bach’s family, Stefan witnesses someone else’s grief and the solace of religion and music. Stefan is told that no matter how deep the grief is, the suffering is not to dwell on it, but to learn and grow from it. You draw a moral lesson from the tragedy, and even when you morn, you still need to carry on with your life. Being an example for all to see is exactly what Passion is about.

Deeply moving characters bring depth and wisdom as they question the greatest mystery – the life itself. John Sebastian Bach, through the eyes of the children, isn’t always easy to live with, but the children know that they are loved, and that’s the best legacy to leave your children.

Beautiful exploration of grief and love as a young boy gifted with an extraordinary singing voice, deeply feels the loss of his mother. He sees the world without his mother “so much more raw, exposed and frightening, with so much less protection and solace from the fearful enormities of what lay ahead.” He misses his mother’s vivacity, a taste for adventure and surprise. But under the tutelage of Bach, he learns to be resilient.

The Great Passion is a finely crafted mystery of life itself and how one can be transformed through grief, music and love. With profound exploration of characters, bringing remarkably authentic and compelling depiction of musically talented family; and how their music transforms not only them, but also the others, by giving people comfort through music.



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