Unknown J.S. Bach Composition Found
A previously unknown work by Johann Sebastian Bach has been discovered in a crate of 18th-century birthday cards removed from a German library shortly before it was devastated by fire, researchers said Wednesday. Experts say the aria for soprano and string or keyboard accompaniment composed for a German duke’s birthday is the first new music from the renowned composer to surface in three decades.
Researcher Michael Maul of the Bach Archiv foundation found the composition, dated October 1713, last month in the eastern city of Weimar. The Leipzig-based foundation said there was no doubt about the authenticity of the handwritten, two-page score. “It is no major composition but an occasional work in the form of an exquisite and highly refined strophic aria, Bach’s only contribution to a musical genre popular in late 17th-century Germany,” said Christoph Wolff, the foundation’s director and a professor at Harvard University.
Wolff said the work, written when Bach was 28, was among documents taken from the Duchess Anna Amalia library in Weimar for restoration before September’s devastating fire. “Otherwise the work would have been consumed by the flames and we would never have known of its existence,” Wolff said.