Little Match Girl Passion
So, I had this idea; what if I took the crowd scenes, the text from the crowd scenes, from the Bach, St. Matthew Passion, where people witnessed the suffering of Jesus and then say we’re watching this person suffer, and how does that make me a better person by noticing that? And how does it make me a better community member to say I never want to see this person suffer again. And that part of the St. Matthew Passion, which I can agree with, which is really beautiful. And what if I took the story of the death of Jesus out and I put someone else’s death story in, so that you’re looking at an ordinary person suffering or you’re looking at another person suffering and challenging yourself that same way? What would happen experimentally? Would that be blasphemous? Would it elevate the ordinary person into a more noble function or a more religious function or pseudo religious function? I didn’t know.
So, I started looking around for other topics. And the first version of this piece, I had all the Bach responses done, and then I just started thinking, well, what if I use obituaries from that week in the New York Times? So, I just tried to set those to music and that didn’t work, and I tried lots of different things that — none of them worked. And then finally, my wife said “What about the little match girl story? That’s really pathetic and that seems to work.”1 And I just typed out the text. I just copied over the first translation into English. I cut it up, I interlaced it with all of the Bach, and it worked, and it worked great. And so, that was it. But it definitely came from the fact that I am moderately religious in my own religion, which happens to not be the religion of the dominant culture.