A University of California Berkeley professor has uncovered a new Handel cantata.
A few years ago, UC Music Librarian Emeritus John Roberts struck up a friendship with Dutch conductor Ton Koopman, who sometimes visits the Bay Area to conduct the San Francisco Symphony. Koopman collects old and rare music scores, and asked Roberts to evaluate a manuscript from his collection. Roberts determined that it was an early version of the cantata Tu fedel? Tu costante?, HWV 171.
"Of the four arias in the cantata, three of them were completely new," Roberts said in a phone interview. "But they definitely were Handel, and it’s very high quality music."
Roberts believes Handel wrote this version of the cantata in Italy in 1705 or 1706. "It’s really quite rare to come across this much new music," Roberts said.
Apparently, others had looked at the manuscript and failed to recognize it's importance. Roberts ascribes his discovery to luck and skill. “You don’t find these things by hunting," Roberts said. "You trip over them."
Koopman conducts the cantata in Amsterdam on Saturday, Apr. 9. Roberts says he plans to be there for the modern premiere.