Lost Beethoven hymn premiered

25 October 2012, 00:01 | Updated: 25 October 2012, 17:55

An unrecognised hymn sketch composed in 1820 was brought to life by students on October 25 in what is likely to be the music's world premiere - listen to the first performance!

Music composed by Beethoven 192 years ago is being performed for perhaps the first time this afternoon in Manchester. The piece, a setting of Pange lingua, was discovered Professor Barry Cooper at the University of Manchester, alongside sketches for Beethoven's famous mass, the Missa Solemnis.

The tune resembles a version of ‘Pange lingua’ that is still sung in churches today. Professor Cooper believes the piece may have been written to be performed liturgically, after the Missa Solemnis, to complete a service.

He said: "This piece is surprising because it doesn’t sound like Beethoven. If I hadn’t seen it in his own handwriting, complete with corrections, I wouldn’t have believed it was by him."

It may be that no one had previously noticed the setting of Pange lingua because the first line of chant is performed without accompaniment, so is not written down in the sketch. Beethoven's score is complete, other than the absence of the first line, so Professor Cooper has added the words to the original organ harmony.

The two-minute piece will be performed this afternoon in the Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama. A performing version of the piece will be published in spring 2013.

Listen to the world premiere performance of Beethoven's Pange lingua