Anastasia Tsioulcas writes at NPR Music for “Deceptive Cadence” (http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence). Widely published as a writer on both classical and world music, she is the former North America editor for Gramophone Magazine and the classical music columnist for Billboard. She has also been an on-air contributor to many public radio programs, including WNYC’s Soundcheck, Minnesota Public Radio’s The Savvy Traveler, Public Radio International’s Weekend America, and the BBC’s The World.
Twenty-nine gentle measures by Felix Mendelssohn are creating quite a stir — after being lost for more than a century.
The song, called "The Heart of Man Is Like a Mine," was a private commission Mendelssohn wrote for an acquaintance in Berlin — and which the composer apparently never wanted to circulate publicly. Mendelssohn wrote it in 1842 at age 33, five years before his death.
Mendelssohn scholars, however, have already known about the existence of this formerly lost song: It was sold at auction twice, first in 1862 and then again in 1872. The manuscript includes Mendelssohn's signature, proving its authenticity and making it a valuable piece of paper even without this little lied.
BBC 4's Today program asked two performers from London's Royal College of Music, alto Amy Williamson and pianist Christopher Glynn, to perform the newly rediscovered piece, whose text is drawn from a poem by Friedrich Rückert called Das Unveränderliche and which is not even a minute and a half long.
Where has this song been all this time? That remains a bit of a mystery. According to the BBC, the manuscript "emerged in a private collection in the U.S." and will be sold at Christie's auction house later this month, where it is anticipated to sell for roughly $25,000-$42,000.