August 31, 2006

Early Bach manuscripts reveal teenage talent

BERLIN (Reuters) - Previously unknown manuscripts by Johann
Sebastian Bach, recently discovered in Germany, prove that the
prolific German composer was a virtuoso even as a teenager,
researchers said on Thursday.

The works, one of which is dated 1700 when Bach was only 15
and the other thought to be even older, are copies of other
composers' choral pieces, arranged for organ by Bach.

They were found among archives in a library in the eastern
city of Weimar.

"We have until now not had anything dated before 1700 and
what is particularly important is that these are not just
manuscripts but musical arrangements which are particularly
demanding," said Christoph Wolff, director of the Bach archive
in Leipzig.

"Technically, they are demanding, compositionally they are
demanding and they show what the 13- to 15-year-old Bach was
capable of," he added. "This is something we have never had any
indication of previously."

The two handwritten pieces are copies of "Nun freut Euch
lieben Christen gmein" by Dietrich Buxtehude and "An
Wasserfluessen Babylon" by Johann Adam Reinken.

The Weimar archives in the Anna Amalia Library have already
yielded an unknown early Bach aria, adding to the few surviving
pieces which remain from his early career.

Acknowledged by many as the greatest Baroque composer, Bach
was born in 1685 and died in 1750. His most famous works
include the Brandenburg concertos and the Mass in B minor.