Lifestyle & Belief

Beethoven arrangement rediscovered, performed for first time in 192 years


Beethoven: great composer, messy handwriter.


Portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler

Beethoven's music comes to life again Thursday in Manchester, as a 192-year-old rediscovered arrangement of his is performed for what is believed to be the first time. 

The hymn by one of the world's greatest composers was discovered by Professor Barry Cooper, a professor at Manchester University’s music department, as he was flipping through one of Beethoven's old sketchbooks dating back to 1820, the Manchester Evening News reported

The arrangement is an updated harmony for the 1,000-year-old Gregorian chant "Pange Lingua," and was previously thought to be a sketch for another piece, BBC News reported

The hymn is significant because it is a rare foray into religious music for Beethoven, who died in 1827, Reuters reported

"I was very surprised when I found this — I didn't think he'd written anything like this," Cooper told reporters. "When I looked at it, I thought, hey, that's not just a series of notes, that's a hymn tune with Beethoven's harmony. It seems that people who are experts in plainsong don't look at Beethoven sketches very much and people who are experts in Beethoven sketches don't look at plainsong very much. But I happened to know both."

It is possible the arrangement was plated on the organ in March 1820 for the occasion of Beethoven's patron Archduke Rudolph of Austria's being named Archbishop of Olmutz, but if not, the two-minute performance Thursday afternoon by University of Manchester students is the piece's first known debut, CBC News reported

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