A 170 year old Mendelssohn manuscript, found in a private collection, to be auctioned next month.

A lost song, written by German composer Felix Mendelssohn, has been given its first public hearing in nearly 140 years. The manuscript’s whereabouts was completely unknown until it emerged recently in a private collection in the United States.

Entitled The Heart of Man is Like a Mine, the piece was privately commissioned in 1842 by Johann Valentin Teichmann, who managed the Court Theatre in Berlin. It mysteriously vanished just 30 years later.

Some 170 years after Mendelssohn originally penned the piece, the Royal College of Music’s Amy Williamson and Christopher Glynn gave an exclusive performance on the UK’s BBC Radio 4. Given that the piece was a private commission, theirs is considered to be “almost certainly the first public performance” of the song. Listen to the performance here.

“It seems likely that we have here music by one of the great composers that no living person has ever heard,” said Thomas Venning, Christie’s Auction’s senior specialist in manuscripts. “It is quite a simple, short song with a catchy, lilting melody. This is a very exciting rediscovery.”

The unpublished manuscript comprises just 29 bars in A Flat...