A long-lost mass by composer Johann Michael Haydn – Franz Joseph Haydn’s younger brother – will be played once again for the first time in over 200 years after it was found by a teenager in a church.
Music scholars like the eminent Karl Geiringer argue that Michael Haydn, who lived between 1737 and 1806, deserved far greater credit for the quality of his creations, which included church music, male choral music and many instrumental works.
He added, however, that the popularity of Michael’s brother Joseph meant Michael’s work might never gained the prominence it deserves. However, this weekend proves the exception when a copy of his long-lost “Mass in C major” will be played after it was discovered in the collection of a choir in Frankenmarkt, a municipality in the district of Voecklabruck in the Austrian state of Upper Austria.
It was identified by the teenager Magdalena Kainberger, 17, who is the daughter of the leader of the local choir, Michael Kainberger. She had been studying the collection in the choir’s archive when she realised that it contained the piece of music, which has since been verified as authentic by scholars.
The copy was dated before 1800 and has now been scanned and digitally preserved forever.
Her father said: “This discovery means a lot to the church choir and to the parish. We did not believe it at first and thought maybe it might be a much later and therefore not contemporary copy.”
He added that it was particularly significant because it was a piece of music specifically designed not for professional performers but for a typical choir of the time, regardless of whether they were enthusiastic amateurs in the countryside, or professional singers from the capital.
To celebrate the discovery it will be played this weekend on Pentecost for the first time in over 200 years after it was long believed to have been lost forever.
The performance will take place in the local church at Frankenmarkt.