Tauranga residents will soon be the first to hear lost music by a renowned English composer that may not have been played for more than 100 years.
The Bay of Plenty Symphonia will play the songs by composer Gustav Holst after recently discovering what it believes to be two original hand-written manuscripts of sheet music.
The songs, Folk Songs from Somerset and Two Songs Without Words, were written in 1906 and have Holst’s English address scrawled at the top of the page.
While Two Songs Without Words has been played again since its writing, Folk Songs of Somerset is not known to have been performed after it was conducted by Holst at a premiere in 1906 by the City of Bath Pump Room Orchestra.
The song’s sheet music was never published and details of it were previously known only through the programme notes from the premiere performance.
That was until members of BOP Symphonia decided to do a spring cleaning of leftover sheet music in their library and came across the manuscripts.
“We were throwing away tons of old photocopies and found these hand-written scores,” music director Justus Rozemond said.
“We didn’t really believe we were holding genuine Holst manuscripts, but there was just enough of a tingle of excitement not to throw them away.”
The keen group of amateur musicians then contacted the Holst Foundation in Britain, who wrote back to say the signatures and handwriting matched Holst’s.
The symphonia does not know how the manuscripts arrived in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty but a previous English conductor who performed in the area might have used them in the 1960s, the group says.
With no other score existing of Folk Songs in Somerset and the British Library containing only a copy of Two Songs Without Words, the group expects it will return the manuscripts to the United Kingdom.
The Holst Foundation in the UK has called the manuscripts “a remarkable find”. NZN