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Passionlocked

  • Kurt von Fischer
  •  and Werner Braun

The story of the Crucifixion as recorded in the Gospels of Matthew (xxvi–xxvii), Mark (xiv–xv), Luke (xxii–xxiii) and John (xviii–xix). In the Roman liturgy the Passion texts are recited as Gospel lessons during Mass on Palm Sunday (Matthew), Tuesday of Holy Week (Mark), Wednesday of Holy Week (Luke) and Good Friday (John). At a very early date special lesson tones were developed for reciting the Passion, and polyphonic settings of its texts have been made since the 15th century.

1. Monophonic Passion.

  • Kurt von Fischer

The earliest report of the use of the Passion in a religious ceremony is that of the pilgrim Egeria who visited Jerusalem in the 4th century and described the services held there during Holy Week. These readings were essentially commemorative in nature, while those in the Western Church (according to patristic theology) took on a didactic function as Gospel lessons. Indeed, Augustine emphasized the need for a solemn delivery (‘Solemniter legitur passio, solemniter celebratur’). About the middle of the 5th century Pope Leo the Great decreed that the St Matthew Passion should be read during the Mass for Palm Sunday and the Mass for the Wednesday in Holy Week, while that of St John should be read on Good Friday. Some 200 years later the St Matthew Passion was replaced by that of St Luke during the Wednesday Mass, and from the 10th century it became the custom in the Roman Church to sing the Passion according to St Mark on the Tuesday of Holy Week. In the Gallican, Ambrosian, Mozarabic and southern Italian liturgies the texts were allotted somewhat differently and sometimes only single verses from the Passion were read.

As indicated in the Roman Ordines, the Passion texts were originally chanted by a single singer (diakon), and there is no reliable evidence that they were sung by more than one until the 13th century. Manuscripts survive from as early as the 9th century in which pitch, tempo and volume are indicated by the so-called litterae significativae (‘significative letters’) but these should not be interpreted as evidence for the distribution of parts to different people. But the letters do reveal an essentially dramatic approach to the Passion at an early stage of development and may be divided into three groups accordingly: letters for the narrative sections (Evangelist), letters for the words of Christ, and letters for the words of the turba (direct speech by groups or individuals). In the narrative portions of the text the letter c (celeriter, later interpreted as cronista or cantor) occurs especially frequently. There also occur the letters m (mediocriter), d (tonus directaneus) and especially in southern Italian sources l or lec (lectio). The words of Christ often bear the letter t (tenere or trahere), which was often transformed into a cross after the 12th century. Other letters used for the words of Christ are i (iusum, inferius), b (bassa voce), d (deprimatur or dulcius), l (lente, leniter), s (suaviter) and, in the Jumièges manuscripts, a (augere). The words of Christ, sometimes distinguished by the colour red, are also prescribed in certain manuscripts to be delivered in the Gospel tone by the letters evg. Occasionally, as in the Sarum rite, the words of Christ on the cross are specially emphasized, either by a higher pitch or by a special use of neumes. The turba is most often marked by the letter s (sursum, later interpreted as synagoga), as well as by the letters a (altius), l (levare) and f (fortiter). In certain sources a distinction is made between the turba of the disciples (lm for levare mediocriter) and the turba of the Jews (ls for levare sursum).

Passion 1. Monophonic Passion.: Ex.1 St John Passion, F-RS 258 (12th century)

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From the 12th century there are sources in which the pitches of the Passion recitative are fixed exactly by means of Roman letters, but the litterae significativae continued to be used. The earliest manuscripts with precise pitch notation came from Corbie and Reims (12th century), and in these the recitation note for the words of Christ is d (alternating with f), while that for the Evangelist is a and that for the turba d′. In these sources the various formulae of melodic punctuation may also be determined ( ex.1). From the 13th and 14th centuries, once again in France before elsewhere, Passions may be found in which lesson tones are written in neumes or square notes on the staff Here the recitation notes for Christ, Evangelist and turba (in that order) are most commonly f/d, g, c′; f, a, d′; or f/e, a, c′. The English Sarum Gradual, on the other hand, has its own Passion tones: the recitation notes are e/f, c′/b, f′/c′; Christ’s words on the cross d′/e♭′. Spain also had its own tradition, and while hardly any Passion tones written down before the second half of the 15th century have survived (at least in southern Spain), towards the end of the 15th century and in the 16th there are, among others, tones with the recitation notes e♭, g, c′ (rite of Toledo Cathedral) and f/d, a, c′/d′ (Escorial, chapel of Felipe II). In Hungary, alongside f, c′, f′ (somewhat rare), e/d, a, d′ occurs particularly frequently. The Passion tone F Lydian (f, c′, f′) appeared for the first time in German sources of the 14th century and was first used in Rome in the late 19th, succeeding g, c′, f′, used in most Italian sources since Guidetti (1586).

The earliest definite distribution of the parts of the Passion lesson among several people is to be found in the Gros livre of the Dominicans dating from 1254. Here the words of Christ are recited on the notes B, A or c, the Evangelist sections on f, and the turba sections on b♭. It is conceivable that the Passion text in the Rationale divinorum officiorum of Durandus, which indicates that the words of Christ are to be spoken softly and those of the Jews with loud cries and coarse voices, is related to Dominican practice. In a Sarum Gradual at Parma ( I-PAc 98; c1300) the Passion lesson is divided between five singers (recitation notes e and d′/e♭–c′–g and f′) and the words of Christ on the cross are chanted by a special singer. Indeed, the division of the Passion lesson among three singers became universal in the course of the 14th and 15th centuries. The first indication of a choral (monophonic) presentation of the turba is found in the manuscript PL-WRu I-F459, written in 1348. These various elements of performing practice (the use of the litterae significativae, the division of the parts among several characters and the use of a chorus for the turba) increased the dramatic impact of the Passion text, and their presence suggests that a new element of compassio had infiltrated the older didactic Passion. The origin of this new attitude is to be sought on the one hand in the mysticism of suffering propagated by Bernard of Clairvaux and in Franciscan-Dominican piety on the other.

2. Beginnings of the polyphonic Passion.

  • Kurt von Fischer

In the 15th century theological trends reached beyond compassio to an imitatio Christi in the sense of a tangible first-hand experience of the Passion. Passion plays became increasingly longer, and polyphony was introduced for the turba of the Passion proper in imitation of the older polyphonic lessons for Christmas. Indeed, those types of Passion that served as models far into the 17th century originated in the 15th and 16th centuries. Here two main groups may be distinguished: responsorial and through-composed.

Passion 2. Beginnings of the polyphonic Passion.: Ex.2 Exordium, St Luke Passion, GB-Lbl Eg.3307

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In the responsorial Passion (referred to in the older literature as ‘choral Passion’ or, less happily, ‘dramatic Passion’) the narrative sections of the Evangelist are chanted monophonically while the words of Christ and the turba may be set polyphonically in one of four ways: only those parts of the turba that are the speeches of groups of people are set polyphonically; all the turba is polyphonic, i.e. all direct speech apart from the words of Christ; the words of Christ as well are set polyphonically (only after about 1535–40); and in connection with any of the above, the title of the Passion (the so-called exordium ‘Passio Domini nostri’) and later also a conclusio, which is not taken from the Gospel accounts, are both included in the polyphonic setting. The earliest extant example of a responsorial Passion is of English origin, a St Luke Passion and a fragmentary St Matthew Passion in the manuscript GB-Lbl Eg.3307 (ed. McPeek, 1963, pp.48, 54) compiled between 1430 and 1444. Written in three-part English discant style, the settings include the exordium and the words of the turba and individual characters, but not the words of Christ ( ex.2). Closely related to these Passions are those of another English source, a single surviving partbook ( GB-SHRs, olim III, 42), which dates from the same period and contains settings of Passions according to St Matthew and St John. The next known Passion of English origin is the four-part St Matthew Passion by Richard Davy, found in the Eton Choirbook (c1490; ed. in MB, xii, 1961), which uses the Sarum Passion tone to some extent.

Passion 2. Beginnings of the polyphonic Passion.: Ex.3 Harburg MS, D-HR ii.lat.2.206

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Apart from these early English sources there is a short treatise written in south Germany about the middle of the 15th century ( D-HR ii.lat.2.206) that is specially important for the German Protestant Passion (ed. in Göllner, Die mehrstimmigen liturgischen Lesungen, 1969, ii, 130ff), as well as for the continental responsorial Passion as a whole. Ex.3 shows how a three-part turba judaeorum originated by combining the three recitation notes f, c′, f′. Another example of a 15th-century responsorial Passion that remains unique comes from a manuscript compiled in northern Italy between about 1470 and 1480 ( I-MOe α.M.1.12). Here the turba sections of the St Matthew and St John Passions are written in a three-part fauxbourdon style with the cantus firmus (recitation tone) in the upper voice ( ex.4). The three turba sections of the disciples in the St Matthew Passion (‘Ut quid perditio haec’, ‘Ubi vis paremus’, ‘Numquid ego sum’) are written for six or even eight parts. Even more remarkable, however, is the fact that the monophonic choral sections for the words spoken by individual characters are differentiated according to male and female pitch registers, suggesting that these pieces are part of a Passion play and not liturgical. Both Passions have survived anonymously, but they are quite possibly the works of Johann Martini, Brebis or even Binchois, who is supposed to have written ‘Passions en nouvelle manière’.

Passion 2. Beginnings of the polyphonic Passion.: Ex.5 Longueval: Passion

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In the through-composed Passion (often referred to in literature as the ‘motet Passion’) the complete text including the narration is set polyphonically. From the 16th century onwards three types may be distinguished according to text: those setting the complete text according to one Evangelist; the so-called summa Passionis (Passion harmony), made up of sections taken from all four Gospels, including all seven words of Christ on the cross, an exordium and a conclusio; and the setting of a shortened version of the text from one Gospel (found only in Protestant Germany). The earliest example of a polyphonic summa Passionis is of Italian origin. In the two oldest manuscripts ( I-Rvat C.S.42, 1507, and I-Fn II. I.232, 1514) Johannes a la Venture and Antoine de Longueval are named as the composer of the work (ed. in Kade, 1893, pp.246–73). The same composition appeared in Georg Rhau’s collection of 1538 in Wittenberg where it is attributed to Obrecht (ed. in Georg Rhau: Musikdrucke, x, 1990, pp.34–56). The text is divided into three sections somewhat analogous to the stations of the via crucis that came into vogue at exactly that time. The tradition of the harmony of the Gospels or the Passion, however, is considerably older. It can be traced back to early Christian times and was popularized above all by the Monotessaron of Johannes Gerson (c1420). The Longueval Passion, which survives in more than 30 manuscripts, is written in a very loose falsobordone style of Italian stamp and the Passion tone is found mostly in the tenor part. The turba sections are mostly four-part; the words spoken by individual characters (including the words of Christ) are two-part with some exceptions, and the sections of the Evangelist are for two, three or four parts ( ex.5). Since the summa Passionis could not be used as a Gospel lesson within the Mass itself, the Longueval Passion may have been written in 1502–4 to celebrate Good Friday in the private chapel of Ercole d’Este in Ferrara (Heyink, 1990). The work did not find widespread acceptance in Catholic areas, except for Bohemia, but was to be of great importance for the Protestant Passion in Germany (see §4 below; for the introduction of polyphony in the Spanish Passion in the late 15th century and the early 16th, see §3).

3. Catholic Passion after 1520.

  • Kurt von Fischer

The responsorial Passion was the most widespread type in Italy. Settings of the texts from St Matthew and St John are most common, those from St Mark and St Luke being less frequent and less ambitious. Among the oldest are those of Corteccia (St John, 1527, and St Matthew, 1532), in which only the exordium, the turba sections and the final evangelium (the last section of the Evangelist’s Passion narrative) are set polyphonically. Corteccia’s Passions may have been written in imitation of works by Bernardo Pisano, which have not survived. Similar settings include those of P. Ferrarensis (St Mark and St Luke, 1565), Vincenzo Ruffo (St Matthew and St Luke, 1574–9), P.A. Giacobetti (1601) and Charles d’Argentille, who was active in Rome before 1543. Among the large number of Italian Passions in which the speeches of individuals (apart from Christ) are also set polyphonically are a fragment of an anonymous six-voice St John Passion written in the falsobordone style ( I-MOd IX), the St John Passion of Jacquet of Mantua (c1540), in the style of Sermisy’s Passion, and the works by Giovanni Contino (1561), Manfred Barbarini Lupus (1562–4, written for the monastery at St Gallen), Paolo Isnardi (before 1570), Floriano Canale (1579), G.M. Asola (1583), Francesco Rovigo (c1580) and a St Mark Passion written for Mantua in about 1580 by Giaches de Wert.

Passion 3. Catholic Passion after 1520.: Ex.6 Gasparo Alberti: St John Passion

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A most important innovation, setting the words of Christ polyphonically, was introduced in certain responsorial Passions no later than the 1540s. The earliest examples are a St Matthew Passion and two St John Passions ( I-BGc 1207–8) by Gasparo Alberti, who was active in Bergamo between 1508 and 1560 ( ex.6). Hardly justifiable from a liturgical point of view, such settings are basically chordal and reveal the same tendency to expressive declamation as the contemporary madrigal. The inclusion of the words of Christ among the polyphonic settings was prefigured in Longueval’s summa Passionis and possibly too in the lost Parole di Christo in cantu figurato (c1534) of the Spaniard Juan Escribano, who was a singer in the papal chapel in Rome. Other Italian composers of responsorial Passions who set the words of Christ polyphonically were P. Ferrarensis (St Matthew and St John, 1565), Ruffo (St John, c1570), Placido Falconio (four Passions, 1580), Paolo Aretino (St John; ed. in Musica liturgica, i/6, 1958), Asola (St John, 1583), Francesco Soriano (four Passions, c1585, printed for the first time in 1619), Teodoro Clinio (four Passions, 1595) and Serafino Cantone (St Matthew and St John, 1604). In some of these works the contrast between the majestic utterances of Christ and the emotionally intense cries of the Jews is developed in a way reminiscent of the madrigal ( ex.7). In some Italian Passions of this type the close of the Passion lesson (Evangelist) is included in the polyphonic setting as well, providing an opportunity for a dramatic multi-voiced conclusion. At the end of his St Luke Passion (‘Et mulieres quae secutae’), for example, Clinio united the six turba parts, the four individual characters and the three parts of the vox Christi into a 13-part setting.

In Italy, alongside the responsorial Passion, the type of setting in which the text of one Evangelist appears in its entirety in a simple note-against-note style appears only rarely. The only known examples are the St Matthew Passion by Jan Nasco (before 1550, printed in 1561), who was active in northern Italy (this work is also known in a divergent form in Spanish manuscripts from Valencia and Montserrat), and the St John Passion by Cipriano de Rore (c1550, printed in 1557). Ruffo also composed a St John Passion along these lines, the style of which was influenced by the reforms of the Council of Trent.

16th-century Catholic Passions of German origin are linked with the Italian responsorial type in which the vox Christi is not set polyphonically. Chief among these are the four Passions that Lassus composed for the Bavarian Hofkapelle between 1575 and 1582. In these works Lassus combined a polyphonic motet style with Italian falsobordone elements; the turba sections are set chordally for full chorus, but the words of the individual characters are composed as bicinia and tricinia. His St Mark, St Luke and St John Passions (1580–82) are distinguished from the older St Matthew Passion (1575) by a stricter liturgical attitude; verbal repetition is largely avoided and the Passion tone is usually clearly recognizable. To the tradition of Lassus belong an anonymous St Matthew Passion ( D-Mbs Mus.76) and possibly also the three lost Passions by Jacob Reiner. Indeed, the settings of Lassus served as models for the responsorial Passion in Catholic areas far into the 17th and 18th centuries, a fact attested to by adaptations of his works from Freising (1707) and Weingarten (1745). Stylistic cross-references to Lassus’s Passions also occur in late 16th-century Protestant works, particularly those of Leonhard Lechner. Other Catholic Passions of the responsorial type include a St Matthew Passion by Johannes Mangon (1574; in D-AAm), and four from the Austrian monastery at Rein, which show Italian influence; only their turba sections are set in polyphony. The only definitely new compositions for summa texts in the Catholic areas of Germany, apart from Longueval’s work and a summa by Mangon, originated in Silesia, Moravia and Prague, which belonged to the German Empire in the 16th century. These include three Passions by Jacob Handl (1578, printed in 1586) and one by Jacob Regnart (c1580). One of the settings by Handl, for two choruses of contrasting register, is especially outstanding. The turba sections are in eight parts, the words of the Evangelist in four to eight parts; the vox Christi is sung by a deeper chorus and the individual parts by a higher one. New discoveries provide proof of the existence of Hussite Passions in late 16th-century Bohemia that translated the Longueval text into Czech.

The Catholic Passions composed in Spain, Portugal, Mexico and other Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries during this period (and indeed in the following centuries) may be divided into three broad groups: (1) Passions following the Roman rite and style; (2) Passions ‘in the Spanish style’ (more hispano); and (3) Passions in which the narrative words of the Evangelist (but not Christ’s words) are set to polyphony, a type found exclusively in Aragon after 1550.

The influence of the Roman rite is seen in the earliest known Spanish reponsorial Passions, by Juan de Anchieta ( E-V; ed in Preciado, 1995). Probably composed before 1523, these were written for four voices in chordal style on the Toledan lesson tone. The Italian responsorial style is also found in Victoria’s two Passion settings (Rome, 1585), in two Passions by Melchior Robledo (ed. P. Calahorra, Opera polyphonica, i, Zaragoza, 1986), and in a few works from the monastery of Montserrat ( E-MO 750, 752).

Passion 3. Catholic Passion after 1520.: Ex.8 St Matthew Passion, E-MA

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The most important type of Iberian responsorial Passion, sometimes designated as more hispano, originated in the late 15th century and the early 16th. It was described in the diary of Johannes Burkhard, who was clericus caeremoniarum at the papal court of Alexander VI (himself a Spaniard) from 1483 to 1506. Burkhard reported that three Spaniards performed the Passion and, departing from the Roman rite, sang the Evangelist’s narrative words ‘Flevit amare’, ‘Emisit spiritum’ and ‘Contra sepulcrum’; he also mentioned certain of Christ’s words that were sung polyphonically. This practice is confirmed by a great number of Passions in 16th- and 17th-century manuscripts from Spain, Portugal, Mexico and Central and South America ( ex.8). Three of the five Passions by Guerrero also show traces of the more hispano. In his five-voice Passions according to St Matthew and St Luke and the four-voice Passion according to St Mark, the Evangelist’s words ‘Flevit amare’ and ‘Et cepit flere’ are set polyphonically in addition to the usual turba sections. Some of Christ’s words are set in polyphony in other Iberian Passions: for example, in a Mexican Passion (Codex del Convento del Carmen, c1600; ed. in Bal y Gay, 1952) the following words of Christ are set in polyphony: ‘Tristis est anima mea’, ‘Eli, Eli lamma’, ‘Mulier ecce filius tuus’ and ‘Consumatum est’. (For polyphonic settings of the various sentences of the Evangelist and Christ, probably following local traditions, see J.V. González-Valle, ed., MME, xlix, 1992, and R. Snow, ed., MRM, ix, 1996.) That such emotionally charged utterances received special treatment in the Spanish Passion may perhaps be explained by the fact that Iberian piety was closely linked with a mystique of suffering. It should also be pointed out, however, that in the Mozarabic rite, which was newly revived about 1500, the Passion lesson for Maundy Thursday closed with the words ‘Et egressus foras, flevit amare’.

The third type of Iberian polyphonic Passion, from Aragon, was probably derived from an Italian model, Nasco’s through-composed St Matthew Passion, transmitted by Ferdinand of Aragon from Italy to the cathedral of Valencia before 1550 as a ‘cosa rara’ (Fischer, 1995). Nasco’s work was adapted to fit the liturgical use of Valencia, with the polyphonic words of Christ and other individuals omitted (see MME, xlix, 1992, where it is erroneously attributed to B.C. Comes, who also wrote several Passions of this type in the early 17th century). Another important Passion composer, one of the first to imitate Nasco, was Juan Oloron, maestro de capilla at Huesca Cathedral from 1551 to 1560. Polyphonic settings of the processus, the narrative sections of the Passion, also appeared in Spanish-dominated Naples, where G.M. Trabaci composed his four Passions (1635) based on the Aragonese lesson tone.

Very few Catholic Passions of French origin from this period are known, possibly because Calvinist influence was strong in France at exactly the time when the setting of the Passion was among the most important concerns of lesson composition in other countries. Apart from the Passions of Longueval and d’Argentille, who were active in Italy, and the Passions of Rore (St John, 1557) and Lassus (St Matthew, 1575), which were printed in Paris, there are only two other settings, one anonymous and the other by Claudin de Sermisy. Both are responsorial types and are contained in Attaingnant’s Liber decimus: Passiones (Paris, 1534; RISM 1535²). The Reformation was apparently responsible for the almost total lack of Passion settings in England. Apart from an anonymous setting in the Gyffard Partbooks which is stylistically related to the Passion composed by Richard Davy about 1490, the only known setting is the three-part turba section of the St John Passion by Byrd (1607). The only documentary evidence for the polyphonic Passion in 16th-century Poland is the Exclamationes Passionum (turba sections and individual parts in polyphony, but not the vox Christi) by Wacław z Szamotuł, printed in Kraków in 1553.

4. Protestant Passion to 1600.

  • Kurt von Fischer

The theological basis for the Protestant Passion, at least in the first half of the 16th century, was formed by Luther’s theologia crucis: ‘The Passion of Christ should not be acted out in words and pretence, but in real life’. In his Deutsche Messe (1526) Luther pronounced against the ‘Vier-Passionen-Singen’, referring apparently to the summa Passionis. The text of a Passion harmony by Luther’s friend the Reformer Johann Bugenhagen, which appeared at the same time, was intended to be read, not sung. However, since Bugenhagen’s text soon enjoyed great popularity, along with the responsorial Passion (which was never criticized by Luther), the monophonic and polyphonic summa in Latin and German soon came into vogue despite Luther’s objections.

In the Lutheran rite the reading of the Passion was spread out over the entire Passion period. Both monophonic and polyphonic Passions as well as summae of various kinds were sung from the Sundays ‘Laetere’ and ‘Judica’ (i.e. two weeks and one week before Palm Sunday) through Palm Sunday until Good Friday, the summa texts being restricted mostly to Matins and Vespers. The Psalmodia of Lucas Lossius (1553), compiled for the church at Lüneburg, prescribes the monophonic Latin St Matthew Passion for Mass on Palm Sunday and the monophonic summa for Matins on Good Friday; a polyphonic Passion was to be provided for Matins on Wednesday of Holy Week. The monophonic Passion was performed according to Luther’s Gospel tone (as well as pre-Reformation tradition) by three people on the recitation notes f, c′, f′. Mention should also be made of a monophonic Liedpassion, which was used in the Protestant (not only Lutheran) sphere as early as the 1530s. This is a text from Bugenhagen’s summa put into verse and sung to Sebald Heyden’s melody ‘O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde gross’.

Passion 4. Protestant Passion to 1600.: Ex.9 Walter: St Matthew Passion

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In Lutheran-Protestant Germany the polyphonic Passion occurs both as a responsorial Passion (particularly those of St Matthew and St John) in German and as a Latin or German summa Passionis. The models for the responsorial Passions are the so-called ‘Walterian Passions’ of Luther’s friend Johann Walter (i), which are regarded not so much as compositions in their own right as examples of how Passions were to be sung (St Matthew Passion, ed. in Kade, 1893, pp.274–305, and in Handbuch der deutschen evangelischen Kirchenmusik, i, 1974, pp.26–38). Various types developed out of these models, the simplest of which had only the turba of the disciples and of the crowd in four parts; everything else was performed monophonically with the Passion notes f, c′, f′. In use as early as 1530, its simple settings are closely related to the three-part versions of the Füssen Passion Treatise ( ex.9). After about 1550–60 a polyphonic exordium (‘Das Leiden unseres Herrn Jesu Christi’) and a polyphonic conclusio were added to the turba sections (e.g. PL-WRu Mus.11), possibly in imitation of Longueval’s summa, which achieved wide popularity in Germany. However, Longueval’s conclusio, ‘Qui passus est’, was usually replaced by a specifically Lutheran thanksgiving, ‘Dank sei unserem Herren’, presumably borrowed from Heyden’s Liedpassion. The polyphonic sections of Walter’s prototype were often revised and composed anew, as in Johannes Keuchenthal’s Kirchen Gesenge latinisch und deudsch (Wittenberg, 1573), where the exordium and conclusio are artfully revised and the turba section ‘Herr, bin ich’s’ is set canonically. In the works of Keuchenthal and Jacob Meiland (1568–70) there is a gradual move away from the use of the cantus firmus, always clearly recognizable in Walter’s prototype, and the use of more skilful techniques of composition.

The German responsorial Passion was further modified when the words of Christ were set polyphonically after the Italian fashion, leaving only the narrative portions of the text monophonic. The first work of this kind in German was Antonio Scandello’s St John Passion (1561; ed. in Kade, 1893, pp.306–44). Scandello, who was active at Bergamo Cathedral from 1541 to 1547, probably borrowed this type of Passion chant from Alberti. With this development Passion music in Germany moved even further away from Luther’s theology in a line of development that led to the Passion oratorios of the 17th century. Bartholomäus Gesius (St John, 1588) followed the pattern set by Scandello, and the two Passions by Rogier Michael, composed in Dresden before 1619 (now lost), also belong to this type.

The summa Passionis in both Latin and German was composed in Protestant Germany in monophonic and polyphonic form. Lossius’s Psalmodia (1553) transmitted Longueval’s Latin text with the exception of the conclusio, but the anonymous ‘Auszug der Historien des Leidens unseres Herren Jesu Christi, durch die vier Evangelisten beschrieben, in eine action gestellet, gesangsweise’ (1552) is a special case. In its design this work is based on the responsorial prototype of Walter, where exordium, conclusio and turba sections are sung in four parts. Like the other versions of Walter’s original, this type of Passion was also handed down until the late 17th century, as in the so-called ‘Glashütter Passion’ (c1680; ed. in Ameln and Mahrenholz, 1932, i/4, 79–94).

Apart from the Walterian models themselves, the most widespread Passion in Germany was that of Longueval, which was published by Rhau in Wittenberg in 1538 under Obrecht’s name; the work appears in over 30 sources in four- and six-part versions. Included in the same print is a four-part summa by Johannes Galliculus (identified in the source as a St Mark Passion) that was textually identical with Longueval’s and was also through-composed; the use of the Passion tone as a cantus firmus is also similar to that of Longueval. Paulus Bucenus (1578) composed a Latin summa after the pattern of these two models, in which the part-writing is extended and a greater degree of independence from the liturgical cantus firmus is achieved. Johannes Herold (1594) also set a German translation of Longueval’s summa text for six parts.

Apart from these summae, the texts of which are based on Longueval’s model, through-composed works were written in Germany that were based on the text of only one Gospel (St John). In these works, however, the Latin text is shortened, the seven words of Christ on the cross completed (following Longueval’s example) and the whole is divided into five sections. It is also characteristic for this type that the Passion tone furnishes the basis for the polyphonic setting. The Latin Passions by Balthasar Resinarius (1544) and Ludwig Daser (1578) belong in this category. That of Daser, presumably written for the Stuttgart Hofkapelle, is directly dependent on that of Resinarius, but the texts of the exordium and conclusio are different in each case; those of Daser coincide with Longueval’s, but not those of Resinarius. There is a direct path from Daser’s work to one of the most representative German Passions of the 16th century, Lechner’s St John Passion (1594), which is also in five sections; the fifth section gives an exact translation into German of the third section of Longueval’s Passion. In Lechner’s setting the Passion notes f, c′, f′ still form the basis of the four-part setting.

A final group of German Passions is based on the four-part German Passion of Joachim a Burck (Wittenberg, 1568). Burck’s text is a greatly abridged version of St John’s Gospel, but in contrast to the works mentioned above there are no additions from the other gospels (with the exception of the conclusioborrowed from Mark ix.24). Since the composer himself made mention of the Longueval Passion in his foreword, this work may also be included within the tradition of that model. A new feature in Burck’s work, however, is the almost total abandonment of the Passion tone, which is represented only by the F-Ionian mode. Regrettably, the only surviving part of Burck’s St Luke Passion (1597) is that of the tenor. Burck’s St John Passion (ed. in PÄMw, xxii, 1898/R) itself became the model for later compositions, particularly the four-part St John Passionby Johann Steuerlein (1576) and the five-part St Matthew Passion by Johann Machold (1593), which uses the shortened version of the St Matthew text and a verse of a song (‘O Jesu Christe, Gottes Sohn’) as a conclusio. The inclusion of the latter marked the beginning of the tradition of inserting song strophes into the Passion.

5. 17th century.

  • Werner Braun

As an independent form occupying a position halfway between a biblical reading and an oratorio, Passion composition is concentrated after 1600 in German-speaking areas, particularly those dominated by Lutheranism. The essential ambiguity of the form is responsible for the juxtaposition of artlessness and artifice, of the archaic and the novel, and (in literature) of polemics and tranquil reflection. In Catholic parts of Germany and in other European countries much less appears to have been made of these inherent and explicit conflicts in the later history of the Passion, and the form either has comparatively little artistic or liturgical significance, or it developed fairly smoothly along its own lines, as in the Viennese sepolcri. Although many influences of Catholic south Germany can be detected in the Passion of central Germany, it alone represents the most vital evolution of the form throughout much of the 17th and 18th centuries.

The responsorial and through-composed types served as models well into the 17th century and even into the 18th. Scandello's German version of the figural Passion of north Italy remained important, particularly as it influenced the development of the Easter historia (see Oratorio, §7) and the oratorio Passion of the second half of the century, but its only notable offspring among Passions proper in the first half was that of Ambrosius Beber (St Mark, 1610). In Beber’s Passion the traditional recitation tone of the monophonic sections is replaced by a new one in G-Dorian, and the polyphonic sections appear to have been influenced by the settings of Lassus. The summa Passionis of Longueval is also represented in a six-part setting by Gesius, published in 1613, but by this time the Latin version was falling into disfavour. The most successful alternative to the text in Latin was not a straight translation into German, as in the Passion of Herold, but a reformulation of text and music, modelled on the setting of Burck. A specifically central German tradition was hereby established that based the text (divided once more into three parts) on a drastically abridged and in places free Lutheran translation of the Passion according to St John (together with the introduction ‘Höret das Leiden unsers Herren Jesu Christi aus dem Evangelisten Johanne’ and the conclusion ‘Wir glauben, lieber Herr, mehre unsern Glauben, amen’). In this type of Passion the music is through-composed in a declamatory style with reminiscences of a cantus firmus and with varying, inconsistent groups of voices characterizing the protagonists. The texture seems rather stiff in comparison with the more melismatic polyphony of its Latin counterparts, but it is more in line with the expressive declamation of the contemporary motet. The style was intensified and perfected, harmonically and expressively, by the Freiberg Kantor J.C. Demantius in his six-part German Passion published in 1631.

The strongest tradition of Passion setting in the first half of the 17th century, however, was that based on the responsorial models of Walter. As in the preceding decades the composer whose name was printed was responsible only for the newly written polyphonic sections (pieces representing dramatic action or the utterances of the turba); it long remained standard practice to use the traditional recitation tone for the monologues, including the narrative of the Evangelist. The contrast between one voice and several was made even more dramatic by increasing the rhythmic and harmonic variety in the polyphonic settings, as in those of Melchior Vulpius (St Matthew, 1613) and Christoph Schultze (St Luke, 1653). With their copiously fugued turbae the three Dresden Passions of Schütz (St Matthew, St John and St Luke, c1665) belong to this tradition, in spite of the fact that he created his own highly expressive recitation tones. The style of Schütz was adopted by the slightly later Dresden Kapellmeister M.G. Peranda (St Mark, 1668), although in the monophonic sections he reverted to the old practice. All the surviving Dresden Passions of the 17th century remained in manuscript, being intended primarily for use at the electoral court of Saxony. In the original compositions of Passion choruses written for other places the number of voices was increased from four to five, as in the St John Passion by O.S. Harnisch (1621), or even, occasionally, to six (Vulpius and Schultze).

A new epoch in the history of the Passion began to develop about 1650, when musicians in the north German Hanseatic cities introduced fundamental and ornamental instruments to the delivery of the Passion. Such settings, called ‘oratorio Passions’, were broken up by the insertion of reflective episodes, sinfonias, parallel biblical texts, new madrigalian verses and hymns. The earliest instrumental accompanied Passions were those by Thomas Selle of Hamburg, who also fully exploited the heritage of the central German tradition of the Passion. His St Matthew Passion (1642) consists of the old Protestant type in the version of Grimm (1629), with the addition of continuo throughout and two melodic instruments for the parts of Christ and the Evangelist. In his St John Passion, which appeared in 1643 with three ‘Intermedien’ (motets), there are many relics of the old recitation tone, and the text is in the tradition of Burck and Demantius. Schütz’s Sieben Wortte Jesu Christi am Kreuz (manuscript, undated) also included two sinfonias as well as two melodic instruments for the part of Christ and may represent a direct link with north Germany. It was not until somewhat later (about 1665), however, especially in the region of Brunswick and Lüneburg, that settings ‘mit einer Stimm und Instrumenten’ and the sinfonia became firmly established. This oratorio-like expansion, first found in the Wolfenbüttel St Matthew Passion of Martin Köler (text published in 1664), consisted of biblical sayings in connection with the Last Supper (‘Kleine geistliche Konzerte’), sinfonias (some with chorale tunes), old chorales (chorale arias), Latin text (the motet Ecce quomodo moritur justus) and two hymns of Johann Rist (new or free arias). The troping of the Passion in Hamburg seems to have taken a different and somewhat less uniform course; there is a gap in extant settings between those of Selle and the printed texts (from 1676). The Königsberg St Matthew Passion by Johann Sebastiani (which appeared in manuscript in 1663, and in print in 1672) may have been influenced by practices in Hamburg, whereas the Riga Passions are closer in construction to the Brunswick-Lüneburg type; the Danzig St Matthew Passion of Thomas Strutz (1664, text alone) steered a somewhat different course with an aria for Jesus.

In addition to providing settings for the inserted material, composers wrote choruses (turbae, exordium and conclusio), and for court churches composers such as Sebastiani, Köler and Johann Theile (1673) also provided recitative. In non-aristocratic circles, however, the monophonic recitation tone was retained in spite of strong inroads made by the new Baroque styles. The completely original music of Theile's St Matthew Passion could have been performed by unaccompanied voices, the arias being replaced by German chorales ‘where instrumental music is not customary during Lent’ (preface of 1673).

6. 18th century.

  • Werner Braun

In the 18th century there were basically four different types of Passion setting. The simple old type without instruments was by this time commonly embellished with hymns, but was more or less ignored by the best composers. A second type, the oratorio Passion, was more artistic, but still adhered to the biblical text; and a third was the Passion oratorio in operatic style with completely original text. Finally, there was the lyrical meditation on the Passion without direct dialogue. The only respect in which nomenclature has distinguished between these varieties is that the oratorio Passion, in contrast to the Passion proper and the Passion oratorio, is often called ‘Passions-Music’ (coupled with the name of the Gospel), while the textually freer Passion, generally based on all four Gospels, often has a poetic title. The former is the type most commonly found in the first third of the 18th century. By adhering closely to a single Gospel text (written in red ink in the autograph score of Bach's St Matthew Passion) it met the devotional requirements of orthodox Lutheranism. In its traditional form (e.g. J.V. Meder's St Matthew Passion, autograph score, 1700) it became established in north Germany, just as the old Protestant Passion had done long before in central Germany. Compositions of this type (for example the St Matthew Passion by J.G. Kühnhausen, c1680) competed with the older liturgical Passion (such as those by Thomas Mancinus, 1620), and compositions by well-known masters (such as Telemann) competed with local settings (for example the St Matthew Passion by J.T. Römhild of Danzig, c1750). Of the five Passions attributed to Bach after his death, it must be assumed that two have disappeared completely. The genre reached its highest achievements in his dramatic St John Passion (1724) and the St Matthew Passion (1727 or 1729) with its dialogue of double choir.

The oratorio Passion played practically no part in the Catholic parts of Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries (the Latin settings of the St John Passion by Alessandro Scarlatti, c1680, and Gaspare Gabellone, 1756, are untroped and are fairly isolated examples), but the Passion oratorio in Italian is one of the most important phenomena in the history of the oratorio proper, especially in Vienna (see Oratorio, §6). The Protestant counterpart is found in Hamburg, where the roots of the operatic, German Passion oratorio with original text can clearly be traced. The type became fully established with the omission of the Evangelist in C.F. Hunold's Der blutige und sterbende Jesus (set by Keiser, 1704) and the substitution of expressive paraphrase in B.H. Brockes's Der für die Sünden der Welt gemarterte und sterbende Jesus, set by Keiser (1712), Telemann (1716), Handel (?1716), Mattheson (1718) and others. To conservative minds, these works contained ‘the spirit of opera more than God's Word’, with the effect of ‘ear-tickling’ rather than ‘edification’ (Hörner, 1933, 32–3), and they were little used in divine worship. In Danzig, churches were permitted only simple Passion formulae without madrigalistic arias. However, the cantata of later times, both sacred and secular, owed much to them for its development.

The lyrical passages and symbolic roles (including the all but indispensable ‘daughter of Zion’) found in the German Passion oratorio were models for the lyrical Passion meditation in oratorio form. It is represented in Italy and italianized Germany from 1730 onwards by Metastasio's La Passione di Gesù Cristo (set by Caldara, Jommelli, Paisiello and others). An increasing aversion to operatic qualities in sacred music, aesthetic objections to sung narratives and dialogues (J.A.P. Schulz, 1774), and the general excess of feeling in the age of sentiment favoured the development of this type in Evangelical parts of Germany. As early as 1720 it is discernible in several Passions by G.H. Stölzel, Kapellmeister of Gotha, but is best exemplified in C.H. Graun's Tod Jesu (text by K.W. Ramler, commissioned by Princess Anna Amalia of Prussia). After its first performance in Berlin on 26 March 1755, Tod Jesu enjoyed considerable success for two reasons: it presented the Passion story as it reflected the image of a sensitive and contemplative Christ, and it used the simplified musical language of pre-Classicism. As a ‘Passion cantata’ it could have been performed liturgically either in its entirety or in part, as was the case with Graun’s ‘Zweite Passion’ of about 20 years earlier, Ein Lämmlein geht und trägt die Schuld. No other setting of Ramler's libretto was able to compete with Graun's, not even Telemann's (1755). Even though its influence has been very little researched, Tod Jesu seems to have marked an important departure in the history of the Passion similar to those initiated earlier by the works of Longueval, Walter, Burck and Scandello. Other Passion oratorios from the second half of the 18th century include that of J.E. Bach (1764), which won renown for its ‘thoroughly German’ choral writing. Even better known, however, were the Passions-Kantate of G.A. Homilius (Leipzig, 1775), edited by J.A. Hiller and celebrated as ‘classical’, and the Passion oratorios of J.H. Rolle (1753–83).

Classification of the 18th-century Passion is made difficult by a multitude of hybrid forms. Telemann's St Luke Passion of 1728, for example, combines elements of oratorio and Gospel history in turn, and each of the five principal sections is preceded with a ‘poetical prelude’ (‘poetische Vorbereitung’). Parody and pasticcio are also important factors; pieces by various composers were transferred to ‘new’ works, where they either retained their original function (e.g. in a Hamburg Brockes Passion in manuscript form) or else took on a new one (cantata movements by Telemann and J.S. Bach are found in a manuscript Passion pasticcio based on Graun). The Passion oratorio yielded texts and modern musical forms (‘free’ recitatives, da capo arias etc.) for the oratorio Passion (J.S. Bach, Telemann), or even provided complete pieces (two arias by Graun were introduced into the St Matthew Passion of Meder long after the latter's death).

7. 19th and 20th centuries.

  • Werner Braun

The function of choral music altered radically in the first half of the 19th century with the advent of public concerts, choral societies and great music festivals. As a result, works such as Beethoven’s Christus am Ölberge (1803) and Spohr’s Des Heilands letzte Stunden (1834–5) belong more to the history of the oratorio than the Passion. Indeed, the church could offer no satisfactory liturgical alternative, and more traditional works such as Bach’s ‘newly discovered St Matthew Passion’ or Graun’s Tod Jesu were performed in public concert halls or in churches made to serve as concert halls. This situation began to change only with the revival of interest in the history of church music that took place around the middle of the century (Giuseppe Baini’s Passion turbae, Rome, 1830; reprints, 1861, of early Passions) and with the musicological research that the Cecilian movement brought in its wake. Heinrich von Herzogenberg’s Die Passion (1896) marked the return of the original composition of the liturgical Passion, but thenceforth composers were to base their works less on the old types of musical setting of the Passion than on the works of great historical figures, particularly Schütz (Hugo Distler’s Choral-Passion, 1933) and Bach (dialogue of double choir in Ernst Pepping's Passionsbericht des Matthäus, 1950). A distinction must still be made between works intended specifically for liturgical use, such as Eberhard Wenzel’s Passion of 1968, and those intended primarily for concert performance, such as Herbert Collum’s Johannespassion (1953) or Penderecki’s Passio et mors Domini nostri Jesu Christi secundum Lucam (1965). Penderecki's references to Bach were surpassed in Mauricio Kagel's Sankt-Bach-Passion (1985), which tells the ‘passion story’ of Bach's life and is based on the B–A–C–H motif. Arvo Pärt’s Passio Domini nostri Jesu Christi secundum Joannem (1982) is another well-known example from the late 20th century.

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  • K. Nef: ‘Schweizerische Passionsmusiken’, Schweizerisches Jb für Musikwissenschaft, 5 (1931), 113–26
  • B. Grusnick: ‘Hugo Distlers Choralpassion’, Musik und Kirche, 5 (1933), 39
  • H. Hörner: Georg Philipp Telemanns Passionsmusiken: ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Passion in Hamburg (Leipzig, 1933)
  • K. Nef: ‘Beiträge zur Geschichte der Passion in Italien’, ZMw, 17 (1935), 208–41
  • A. Adrio: ‘Die Matthäuspassion von J.G. Kühnhausen (Celle um 1700)’, Festschrift Arnold Schering zum sechzigsten Geburtstag, ed. H. Osthoff (Berlin, 1937/R), 24–36
  • B. Lundgren: ‘En okänd Mattheuspassion från mitten av 1600-talet’, STMf, 28 (1946), 72–84
  • A. Dürr: ‘Zu den verschollenen Passionen Bachs’, BJb 1949–50, 81–5
  • M. Cooper: ‘Jommelli and his “Passione”’, The Listener, 44 (1950), 713
  • H.H. Eggebrecht: ‘Die Matthäus-Passion von Melchior Vulpius (1613)’, Mf, 3 (1950), 143–8
  • P. Mies: ‘Neuzeitliche Passionskompositionen’, Zeitschrift für Kirchenmusik, 71 (1951), 30–35
  • E. Hanley: ‘Current Chronicle’, MQ, 39 (1953), 241–7 [discussion of A. Scarlatti's St John Passion]
  • H. Römhild: ‘Die Matthäus-Passion von Johann Theodor Römhild’, Mf, 9 (1956), 26–33
  • J. Birke: Die Passionsmusiken von Thomas Selle (1599 bis 1663): Beiträge zur Geschichte der Passion im 17. Jahrhundert (diss., U. of Hamburg, 1957)
  • B. Smallman: The Background of Passion Music: J.S. Bach and his Predecessors (London, 1957, enlarged, 2/1970)
  • J. Birke: ‘Eine unbekannte anonyme Matthäuspassion aus der zweiten Hälfte des 17. Jahrhunderts’, AMw, 15 (1958), 162–86
  • J. Birke: ‘Zur Geschichte der Passionsaufführungen in Hamburg bis zum Tode des Kantors Thomas Selle’, Zeitschrift des Vereins für hamburgische Geschichte, 44 (1958), 219–32
  • W. Braun: Die mitteldeutsche Choralpassion im 18. Jahrhundert (Berlin, 1960)
  • W. Braun: ‘Andreas Unger und die biblische Historie in Naumburg an der Saale’, Jb für Liturgik und Hymnologie, 7 (1962), 172–86
  • W. Blankenburg: ‘Die Aufführungen von Passionen und Passions-kantaten in der Schlosskirche auf dem Friedenstein zu Gotha zwischen 1699 und 1770’, Festschrift Friedrich Blume, ed. A.A. Abert and W. Pfannkuch (Kassel, 1963), 50–59
  • J. Chailley: Les Passions de J.S. Bach (Paris, 1963)
  • A. Dürr: ‘Beobachtungen am Autograph der Matthäus-Passion’, BJb 1963–4, 47–52
  • J.W. Grubbs: ‘Ein Passions-Pasticcio des 18. Jahrhunderts’, BJb 1965, 10–42
  • M. Geck: Die Wiederentdeckung des Matthäuspassion im 19. Jahrhundert (Regensburg,1967)
  • M.J. Moser: Die Passion von Schütz bis F. Martin (Wolfenbüttel, 1967)
  • H. Becker: ‘Die Brockes-Passion von G.F. Händel’, Musica, 22 (1968), 135–737
  • A. Dürr: ‘Eine Handschriftensammlung des 18. Jahrhunderts in Göttingen’, AMw, 25 (1968), 314
  • A. Dürr: ‘Neues über Bachs Pergolesi-Bearbeitung’, BJb 1968, 89–100
  • D.G. Moe: The Saint Mark Passion of R. Keiser: a Practical Edition, with an Account of its Historical Background (diss., State U. of Iowa, 1968)
  • P. Brainard: ‘Bach's Parody Procedure and the St. Matthew Passion’, JAMS, 22 (1969), 241–60
  • W. Steude: ‘Die Markuspassion in der Leipziger Passionen-Handschrift des J.Z. Grundig’, DJbM, 14 (1969), 96–116
  • G. Grote: ‘Der Weg zum “Passionsbericht des Matthäus” von Ernst Pepping: strukturelle Untersuchungen’, Festschrift Ernst Pepping zu seinem 70. Geburtstag (Berlin, 1972), 57–84
  • I. König: Studien zum Libretto des ‘Tod Jesu’ von K.W. Ramler und K.H. Graun (Munich, 1972)
  • J.B. Haberlen: A Critical Survey of the North German Oratorio Passion to 1700 (diss., U. of Illinois, 1974)
  • H. Friedrichs: Das Verhältnis von Text und Musik in den Brockespassionen Keisers, Händels, Telemanns und Matthesons: mit einer Einführung in ihre Entstehungs- und Rezeptionsgeschichte sowie den Bestand ihrer literarischen und musikalischen Quellen (Munich, 1975)
  • A. Glöckner: ‘J.S. Bachs Aufführungen zeitgenössischer Passionsmusiken’, BJb 1977, 75–119
  • S.A. Malinowski jr: The Baroque Oratorio Passion (diss., Cornell U., 1978)
  • R. Robinson and A.Winold: A Study of the Penderecki St. Luke Passion (Celle, 1983)
  • L. and I. Stieger: ‘Die theologische Bedeutung der Doppelchörigkeit in J.S. Bachs “Matthäus-Passion”’, Bachiana et alia musicologica: Festschrift Alfred Dürr zum 65. Geburtstag, ed. W. Rehm (Kassel, 1983), 275–86
  • E. Axmacher: Aus Liebe will mein Heyland sterben, Beiträge zur theologischen Bachforschung, 2 (Stuttgart, 1984)
  • U. Prinz, ed.: J.S. Bach, Matthäuspassion bwv244: Vorträge der Sommerakademie J.S. Bach 1985 (Stuttgart, 1990)
  • M. Geck: J.S. Bach Johannespassion bwv245 (Munich, 1991)
  • J. Schmedes: T. Selle und die biblischen Historien im 17. Jahrhundert (diss., Munich U.,1992)
  • U. Prinz, ed.: J.S. Bach, Johannespassion bwv245: Vorträge des Meisterkurses 1986 und der Sommerakademie J.S. Bach 1990 (Stuttgart,1993)
  • M. Lölkes: ‘Beobachtungen zu einigen Sinfonien in den Matthäus-passionen von F. Funke und J.V. Meder’, Musik und Kirche, 64 (1994), 11–23
  • Passionmusik im Umfeld von J.S. Bach (Leipzig,1994)
  • K. von Fischer: ‘Der Passionsgesang in einer evangelisch-liturgischen Karwochenordnung aus der Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts’, Telemannia et alia musicologica: Festschrift G. Fleischhauer zum 65. Geburtstag, ed. D. Gutknecht, H. Krones and F. Zschoch (Oschersleben, 1995), 234–9
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