Bach in a Shoebox

Bach Archive researcher Michael Maul was looking through a shoebox that had only narrowly escaped a fire in the Anna Amalia Library a few months before. Inside lay more than 100 letters and poems for the 52nd birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach's patron, Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Saxe-Weimar. Maul had hoped to find a greeting from the composer himself, who in 1713 was the court organist. But what he found instead was a two-page hand-written aria for soprano and harpsichord, the first Bach vocal work discovered in 70 years.

The text is a 12-stanza poem by Johann Anton Mylius, beginning, "Alles mit Gott und nichts ohn' ihn" (Everything with God and nothing without him). The music, British conductor John Eliot Gardiner told The Guardian, is "a reflective, meditative, soothing piece, as Bach's church music so often is." The Bach Archive asked Gardiner to record and perform the piece in December, but the aria's first recording can be heard free at NPR.org.

Buried Saxon Treasure

Underneath Herefordshire Council's parking lot in Leominster, England, lies a Saxon rotunda, 56 feet in diameter. The council says the find, discovered by radar, is probably a 10th- or 11th-century baptistry, chapel, or mausoleum. "This is a tremendously important find- an opportunity to rewrite the early history of Christianity," Bruce Watson, a senior archaeologist with the Museum of London Archaeology Service, told the London Times.

Probably a medieval addition to a monastery founded around 660 by King Merewalh (or Merewald), the round structure appears to be well preserved. "It may be like going to a house and seeing the contents left behind," says Watson, who wonders if those contents ...

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