In the summer of 1853 Johannes Brahms had just turned twenty and was touring as the piano accompanist of the Hungarian violinist Ede Reményi. On today’s date, they arrived in Gottingen, where they were hosted by Arnold Wehner, the Music Director of that city’s University.
Wehner kept a guest book for visitors, and over time accumulated signatures from the most famous composers of his day, including Mendelssohn, Rossini, and Liszt. Now, in 1853, Brahms was not yet as famous as he would later become, but as a thank-you to his host, he filled a page of Wehner’s album with a short, original composition for piano.
Fast forward over 150 years to 2011, when Herr Wehner’s guest book fetched over $158,000 at an auction house in New York City, and this previously unknown piano score by Brahms attracted attention for many reasons.
First, few early Brahms manuscripts have survived. Brahms was notorious for burning his drafts and sketches, and second, the melody Brahms jotted down in 1853 showed up again in the second movement of his Horn Trio, Op. 40, published 12 years later.
Finally, there's a still-unresolved controversary about who had rediscovered the long-lost score: the auction house had the manuscript authenticated in 2011, but in 2012 the British conductor Christopher Hogwood claimed he had stumbled across it while doing other research.
Music Played in Today's Program
Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897)Albumblatt in A Minor (1853) Sophie-Mayuko Vetter, p.Hännsler 98048