I am currently writing a novel about Johann Sebastian Bach, concentrating on the composition and first performance of The St. Matthew Passion in 1727.
In 1997, I made a television documentary about Bach for the BBC series The Great Composers with John Eliot Gardiner, András Schiff, Ton Koopman, Jonathan Miller, Charles Rosen and Joanna MacGregor. I then wrote a play, The Great Passion, for BBC Radio 4, in 2016, starring Simon Russell Beale and Melody Grove, directed by Eoin O’Callaghan. The music was performed by the Dunedin Consort conducted by John Butt. This was then turned into a stage play and performed at Dartington Hall in 2018, directed by Richard Williams, with music conducted by Rob Howarth.
The novel stretches from the death of Bach’s first wife Maria Barbara in 1720 and concentrates on the St.Matthew Passion but also includes a chapter on Bach’s final year. The central idea is to ask what makes one particular piece of music such a consummate work of art, faith, compassion and understanding.
It will be published in 2021.