The St Luke Passion (full title: Passio et mors Domini nostri Jesu Christi secundum Lucam, or the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to St Luke) is a work for chorus and orchestra written in 1966 by Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki. The work (one of several musical settings of the Passion story) contains text from the Gospel of Luke as well as other sources such as the Stabat Mater. Despite the Passion's almost total atonality and use of avant-garde musical techniques, the musical public appreciated the work's stark power and direct emotional impact and the piece was performed several more times soon after its premiere on March 30, 1966.
The Passion is almost entirely atonal, except for two major triads which occur once at the end of the Stabat Mater, a cappella, and once, an E major triad, at the very end of the work with full choruses, orchestra and organ. It makes very frequent use of tone clusters, often played fortissimo by brass or organ. The contrapuntal equivalent of tone clusters is micropolyphony, which is one approach to texture that occurs in this piece (Stein 1979, 234). Occasionally Penderecki employs twelve-tone serialism, and utilizes the B-A-C-H motive. Moreover, David Wordsworth believe that the B-A-C-H motive unites the entire work (Wordsworth 2013, p. 47). The principle 12-tone row/Cantus Firmus I is: C#-D-F-E-Eb-F#-G-G#-B-Bb-A-C. The 12-tone row of Cantus Firmus II and the Bach motive is: E-Eb-F-F#-D-C#-G-Ab-Bb-A-C-B. The chorus makes use of many extended techniques, including shouting, speaking, giggling and hissing.