Brahms piano work found in visitors' book 160 years on

 

An unknown work by the composer Johannes Brahms has come to light after almost 160 years following its chance discovery in a visitor's book, and will be played for the first time next week.

The two-minute piano piece, called Albumblatt, was written in Brahms' breakout year, 1853, when he was just 20, and was found by the conductor Christopher Hogwood. The news will be exciting for Brahms enthusiasts as few of his early manuscripts exist.

Roger Wright, controller of BBC Radio 3, the classical music station, said: "Brahms is one of the most significant composers of the 19th century... This is a fascinating discovery; it sheds light on his work in a new way. You can absolutely recognise this as Brahms' style."

The piece was discovered by chance while Mr Hogwood leafed through manuscripts held in the US. He brought the piece to Mr Wright, who commissioned the celebrated Hungarian pianist Andras Schiff to play it for the first time. The short work will appear on BBC Radio 3's Music Matters on January 21.

Mr Hogwood was researching manuscript collections and was shown a volume from Germany, with autographs of visiting musicians. "It was like a visitor's book. In it, Brahms had taken the surprising step to write out a two-minute piano piece," Mr Wright said.

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