May 28, 2007

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Newly Discovered Mendelssohn Manuscripts Sold at Sotheby's

By Vivien Schweitzer
25 May 2007

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy

Two recently unearthed songs by Mendelssohn were sold this week by Sotheby's in London for £21,600. The autograph manuscript, a significant musical discovery, was bought by the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, a major research library, according to a report from Gramophone Online.

Mendelssohn composed the two songs early in his career, during the period when he produced several major works, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Dr. Simon Maguire, specialist in manuscript music at Sotheby's, told Gramophone, "The young Mendelssohn is the archetype of great precocious musical talent, even more than Mozart. He wrote perfect masterpieces at the age of 16: to have new music by him is like having a new poem by Keats."

There is reportedly no mention of Seltsam Mutter geht es mir, one of the two new songs, in any of the Mendelssohn literature. The song, which is written in C major and has an "experimental quality," is typical of Mendelssohn's youthful style, according to Gramophone.

Der Wasserfall, the second song, exists in incomplete form in a source in Berlin, but is reportedly unperformable as such. The new manuscript completes the song, providing a third stanza which Gramophone says is "both beautiful and harmonically adventurous."

The manuscript is inscribed and dated 1825, probably by its recipient, Agnes Rauch.



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