Rothenberg to Moderate Panel Discussion about Anti-Semitism in Bach’s St. John Passion

Discussion Moderator and CWRU Music Department chair, David J. Rothenberg


On Sunday, March 5, Cleveland Orchestra music director Franz Welser-Most will preface his spring performances of Bach’s St. John Passion with a panel discussion titled “Is Bach’s St. John Passion Anti-Semitic?”

The event, scheduled for 3 p.m. at Temple-Tifereth Israel (26000 Shaker Blvd., Beachwood), is free and open to the public. However, tickets are required. To order tickets, go to or call 216-593-0575.

The panel will seek to answer a question long asked about the St. John Passion, one of Bach’s greatest and most dramatic but also most controversial works. In addition to its stirring music and masterful construction, the piece also contains depictions of Jewish people some listeners regard as anti-Semitic.

Welser-Most will headline the discussion along with Rabbi Roger Klein, associate rabbi at Temple-Tifereth Israel, and Michael Marissen, professor emeritus of music at Swarthmore College and author of “Bach and God.” David Rothenberg, chair of the music department at Case Western Reserve University, will moderate.

The question of anti-Semitism in Bach is of special relevance this season in Northeast Ohio, as Welser-Most and the Cleveland Orchestra are slated to perform the St. John Passion three times this spring: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 9; 8 p.m. Saturday, March 11; and 3 p.m. Sunday, March 12. Read the full article at