A newly discovered 7th cello suite by Bach? Check the date and key

A newly discovered 7th cello suite by Bach? Check the date and key


norman lebrecht

April 01, 2020

Sebastian Comberti of London Mozart Players has made an amazing Bach discovery inside an Elgar score that he found in a junk shop.

It’s a suite in E minor, in the hand of Anna Magdalena Bach.

You hear it here first.


  • Dave says:

    Check the date indeed.

  • cellissimo says:

    Is this like Mozart’s Violin concerto “#7” – not really Mozart at all but a stylistic pastiche?

  • Phillip Rose says:

    Funny, I thought the manuscript appeared to be in the “familiar hand” of Caroline Alice Elgar, not Anna Magdalena Bach.


    Nice try!

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    That work was known already, but it was not composed by J.S. Bach. The composer was the Italian cello virtuoso Gianbattista Capetta who visited Leipzig in the Spring of 1734 and surely met the grand master. The manuscript, a copy of the original in the hands of Bach’s wife Anna Magdalena, was found by the musicologist Arnold Schering who dedicated an essay about it in the first issue of the Bach-Jahrbuch in 1903. The manuscript disappeared, and rumors that it was destroyed in a Zepelin crash in 1933. I am very happy that Sebastian Comberti recovered.

    • Larry W says:

      PF, your account requires clarification. G.B. Capetta was in Leipzig as part of a concert tour to show off his new 1733 Matteo Goffriller cello, later owned by Pablo Casals. The instrument had a particular affinity for its resonance on the note E, and this suite was one of several works he wrote exploiting that tonal characteristic. It is said Capetta played with the greatest of E’s.

  • Cristian says:

    But this is more or less the same material as his cello concerto main theme – Elgar didn’t share it to the world so he can use it?

  • Chi-chi Nwanoku says:

    What a wonderful story. Whoever wrote it, I love the fact that it somehow went through the Bach household and clearly inspired Elgar for his concerto, and now we get to hear the lovely Sarabande. Brilliant!

  • Sebastian Virtosu says:

    Well, its 1st Fool Day of April. This “Sarabande” its the Introduction of cello concert in E minor, 1st movement, by Elgar…Well done performance by the way!

  • Pedro says:

    It must be a joke…

  • Ben G. says:

    Actually, PDQ Bach (1807–1742) is the real composer of this monumental work, first composed during his days in Baden-Baden-Baden and edited lated on in Wein-am-Rhein.

    • M.Arnold says:

      Absolutely correct Ben G,
      It’s simply a copy of the cello part of his monumental Trite Quintet , the original score of which is in the PDQ archives at the University of Southern North Dakota @ Hoople.N.D.

  • Jennifer Hillman says:

    Brilliant. You had me worried, until I heard the first chord, that all of those sets of 6 from Bach’s pen were not planned, but by chance. Next year, the 7th Brandenburg: no doubt for banjo, ondes martenot, tuba, ukelele and ripieno.

    • Pär Engstrand says:

      Being (also) a banjo player I would really like that! 🙂
      At least the banjo was already invented during Bachs time.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Lovely and as authentic as the day is long – check the time. For those who for their own quirky reasons prefer their unaccompanied Bach fixed up with piano accompaniment, there is a very skilled and original piano accompaniment to this Sarabande composed by Joyce Hatto, and premiered by her with the well-known American cellist, Morey Amsterdam.

  • Chris F says:

    Wonderful…clever and funny. We need humour right now.

  • Michael says:

    Norman doesn’t seem to have gotten the joke! It’s the Elgar concerto player in the style of a Bach Sarabande. Hopefully this doesn’t mislead less informed readers (it wouldn’t be the first time, Norman).

  • Nicolas says:

    Good joke Sir Comberti ! You really had me ! 🙂

  • Peter San Diego says:

    Perhaps there’s another sheet in there, containing the mysterious hidden theme of the Enigma Variations — perhaps derived from Haydn’s quartet Op. 33 No. 2?

  • Liam Allan-Dalgleish says:

    yes. Very funny. Happy April Fools’ to you too. There are definitely snippets ofBach in there, but. . . .

  • Julia says:

    That’s the beginning of the Elgar Cello concerto….did he steal it from Bach??

  • Steve says:

    Lol…I wonder why Elgar didn’t share his discovery…nice one 🙂

  • Julia says:

    Awww….you got me:)

  • Alexander Tarak says:

    Ho ho ho ….Hilarious. (not)

  • Ben Dominitz says:

    The resemblance to the opening of the Elgar cello concerto is uncanny, and clearly not accidental. So, which came first, I wonder?

  • Michael Levine says:

    I believe “check the date” says it all.

  • Brian L Thompson says:

    Maybe Elgar didn’t want to share it because…. It sounds strikingling similar to…I don’t know The Elgar concerto!?

  • Ivan says:

    It sounds a lot like the Elgar cello concerto.

  • John says:

    I think the joke may have been the idea of Sebastian Comberti’s late daughter Micaela, because he mentioned Salomon for no sensible reason, and it was she who played with the Salomon Quartet.