BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Entertainment
Front Page 
UK Politics 
TV and Radio 
New Media 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Wednesday, 14 March, 2001, 14:48 GMT
New Mozart found in Yorkshire
Another new Mozart - an opera - was found in 1996
A new work by Mozart - dating from the 1780s - has been found in a Yorkshire council records office.

An academic sifting through documents at Calderdale Council's records office in West Yorkshire found the piece - an adaptation of Handel's oratorio Judas Maccabaeus.

Dr Rachel Cowgill of Leeds University was looking through a collection of musical documents relating to Georgian Halifax, when she happened on the manuscript.

I couldn't put a monetary value on it but in terms of scholarship it is extremely valuable

Dr Rachel Cowgill, Leeds University music department

"I opened the score and looked at the title page where it quite clearly said by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, then I realised it was Judas Maccabaeus," she said.

Mozart adapted four pieces written by Handel in the 1780s to make them more suitable to contemporary tastes.


Although scholars have found references to an adaptation of a fifth piece, until now no trace of the work was ever found.

This news comes in the same week as an announcement by the Royal Academy of Music in London that it had found and authenticated a previously unknown Handel work.

As such it will send further ripples of excitement through music circles.

"It tells us much more about how Mozart responded to an earlier great master like Handel," said Dr Cowgill.

"I couldn't put a monetary value on it but in terms of scholarship it is extremely valuable."

Dr Cowgill is researching the library of William Priestly, a collector of German music and early member of Halifax Choral Society.

Priestly may have got the manuscript through his connection with a church in Fulneck, West Yorkshire, where a clergyman had bought several scores from a music publishers in Leipzig in 1817.

Mozart mastered his first piece of music in 30 minutes at the age of five
It is thought that Priestly presented the manuscript to Halifax Choral Society in 1850, and although they still own the piece, it is part of a collection that is on permanent loan to the record office.


The manuscript is not written in Mozart's own hand, but Dr Cowgill is convinced that the score is genuine.

"The things that he does in this arrangement match the techniques he used in his adaptation of Handel's Messiah," said Dr Cowgill, an expert on the composer.

Experts are examining the manuscript to decide whether it is genuine, something which can take some time. The authentication of the Royal Academy of Music's Handel discovery is thought to have taken years.

But Dr Cowgill feels that the evidence that this is indeed an unknown Mozart arrangement of Handel's oratorio is very persuasive.

She is planning to edit the arrangement and is discussing a possible performance with Halifax Choral Society.

Judas Maccabaeus will be better known to some as the source of the hymn Thine Be The Glory, written by Handel in 1747.

Handel was born in 1685 in Halle, Germany but spent many years in London where he was the Royal Family's favourite composer.

Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria in 1756, while Handel died in 1759.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

12 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Lost Handel set for modern debut
25 May 00 | Entertainment
Long-lost Mozart comes to London
01 Nov 99 | Education
Mozart sobers up students
09 Sep 99 | Americas
The Mozart Effect debunked
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Entertainment stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Entertainment stories