Eric T. Chafe is Professor Emeritus of Music at Brandeis University, where he taught since 1982. His primary research areas are the music of J. S. Bach, on which he has published several books and numerous articles, Wagner (a book on Tristan undIsolde), and Monteverdi. His books have won the AMS Kinkeldey Award and the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award.

"Chafe's interpretation of the St. John detects theology in almost every bar. He notes that over the two parts of the Passion--the first centered on Peter's denial of Jesus, the second on Jesus' trial before Pontius Pilate--Bach shifts from flat key signatures to sharp ones and back again. The very look of the notation on the page might be symbolic: sharp signs resemble crosses (# or x). At each transition, Jesus' seeming defeat becomes an emblem of his power. After all, he had predicted that Peter would deny knowing him, and so that humiliation only leads to his victory. Before Pilate, Jesus exposes the emptiness of earthly authority. ('You would have no power over Me, if it were not given to you from above.') As this exchange takes place, the tonality is yanked from D minor, with one flat, to C-sharp minor, with four sharps."--The New Yorker

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