192-Year-Old Beethoven Hymn Found, Performed For First Time

LENOX, Mass. (CBS Connecticut) – The sounds of Ludwig van Beethoven’s timeless music have often graced the grounds of Tanglewood, but now a recently uncovered hymn could join the score.

CBS News reports that a previously undiscovered piece of music thought to have been written around 1820 was found by a professor at the University of Manchester in the master composer’s original sketches of the “Mass in D.”

The piece was subsequently performed for what is believed to be the first time in history on Thursday.

But its existence in and of itself was not the only surprise inherent in its discovery.

“This piece is surprising because it doesn’t sound like Beethoven,” Cooper, a reported Beethoven expert, was quoted as saying in a press release. “If I hadn’t seen it in his own handwriting, complete with corrections, I wouldn’t have believed it was by him.”

The piece was allegedly thought to be composed for Archduke Rudolph of Austria, and is a smooth chant of the “Pange Lingua,” a form of Medieval Latin hymn.

“It’s quite telling that Beethoven wrote what is after all a simple piece of functional liturgical music – and must in some way indicate his devotion,” Cooper reportedly noted.

If it were to have been performed – and historians are not sure it ever was before this week’s show – it would likely have played a part in the archduke becoming an archbishop.

Music students at the university had the honor of performing the piece in the school’s Martin Harris Center. Cooper himself reportedly added words to the vocal parts.

Beethoven, a German composer of great influence in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras of music, is perhaps best known for his Moonlight Sonata and the “Ode to Joy” section of his Ninth Symphony.

Click here to listen to the piece.

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