Long-Lost Aria by Bach Discovered in Shoebox

Classic Arts News   Long-Lost Aria by Bach Discovered in Shoebox
The score of a previously unknown work by Johann Sebastian Bach has come to light in Weimar, Germany, the London Guardian reports.

The work is an aria for soprano, strings, and harpsichord and was discovered, according to the paper, in an old shoebox along with poems and letters written in celebration of the 52nd birthday of Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Saxe-Weimar, Bach's patron.

Michael Maul, a member of the Bach Archive in Leipzig, came across the work two weeks ago when researching the composer's life. Experts compared the handwritten manuscript to Bach's writing and declared the score authentic.

Dr. Peter Wollny, head of research at the archive, said, "After Michael and I identified it as Bach's we opened a very expensive bottle of champagne."

"It's a charming little work," Wollny said, "written for one singer—a soprano—and a harpsichord. There's a little postlude at the end for a string ensemble—two violins, a viola, and a cello. It takes just four or five minutes to play."

Conductor John Eliot Gardiner will perform the work at Cadogan Hall in London in December, and will record on his Soli Deo Gloria label, according to Gramophone online.

The work, Gardiner said, "is a lovely, beautiful, enchanting piece of music. It's similar to the aria for the Hunt Cantata that Bach wrote at the same time, but it also stands in its own right. Its importance will only emerge once we perform it."

Gardiner feels the aria is part of a longer work, and Wollny is interested in what the work reveals about Bach's years in Weimar, where he worked as a court organist early in his career. Not much is known about this period in his life.

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