Work of the Week – The Passion of Ramakrishna

By Konzerthaus Berlin April 29, 2024


© Marco Borggreve: Friedemann Ludwig

"I am as much a professing Buddhist as I am a professing Tolteke, a professing Hindu or even a Catholic. I'm not a member of one club, but of many clubs," said Philip Glass, who is often labelled as composer of minimal music, in an interview in 2017. Born into a Jewish family and raised as an atheist, the then 80-year-old thus arrived at an attitude of great spiritual openness. Among other things, he was fascinated by the Hindu mystic Sri Ramakrishna, about whose serious illness and transcendence of physical suffering, which led to his death, he wrote the oratorio "The Passion of Ramakrishna" in 2006.

But who was Sri Ramakrishna actually? Born in rural Bengal in 1836, he entered the temple service of the divine mother Kali in a village near Calcutta as a young man. He remained there as a simple priest for the rest of his life, although his visions seemed so extraordinary to Hindu scholars that they declared him a saint. The spiritual autodidact impressed them with his deep insight into learned scriptures and his effortless answers to their challenging questions. Ramakrishna later established the "fundamental equality of religions": they would only lead to absolute consciousness by different paths. His spiritual and cultural influence remained very significant after his death in 1886. That India would have emerged on the world stage without the spark that emanated from Ramakrishna's brilliance is difficult to imagine, wrote Philip Glass about his oratorio.

In Glass' work, which depicts the suffering, death and transfiguration of Ramakrishna, the choir takes on the voice of the mystic. His wife Sarada Devi, his trusted disciple and chronicler M., from whose pen the underlying text "The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna" originates (which was heavily abridged for the oratorium), as well as his attending physician Dr. Sarkar and two further disciples are cast in solo roles.


For this event, you will not receive tickets through our webshop. You will therefore be redirected to an external page of the organizer. If you have any not completed bookings on, they will be dissolved after 20 minutes.