The dispute emerged after the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow broadcast a valuation of a draft score of the Enigma Variations on July 8.
The show’s manuscript expert, Justin Croft, valued the score at up to £100,000 during filming last year and, following this, the current owner, Jude Hooke from Worcester, contacted auction house Christie’s to sell it.
According to a report in The Times, Mellor, chairman of the Elgar Foundation, complained to the BBC that it should not have broadcast the segment as it had been notified that its ownership was disputed. The foundation “regarded [the manuscript] as stolen property”, telling the newspaper that it disappeared in “mysterious circumstances” in 1994.
The Times said Hooke’s late husband had previously worked at the same solicitor’s firm as the now deceased Sam Driver-White, the then vicechairman of the foundation.
In a statement sent to ATG, the BBC said that Hooke is now planning to give the document to the British Library. The research archive of the Elgar Foundation is now housed at the library.
A BBC spokesperson said: “The manuscript was not physically seen by our books expert Justin Croft until the day of filming.
“However, after realising its historical significance, the production team liaised with the relevant parties and informed them of the broadcast. Since broadcast we have been very keen to do what we can to ensure this matter is resolved.
“We understand that Ms Hooke and the British Library are now in contact and that Ms Hooke hopes the manuscript can be preserved for the nation by the British Library. The British Library has agreed to assist with this.”
The score had belonged to August Johannes Jaeger (1860-1909), one of Elgar's closest friends. Jaeger was the inspiration for Nimrod, the ninth and perhaps most famous movement of the Enigma Variations.
It had been bequeathed by the composer's daughter, Carice, to the Elgar Foundation.
“Reappearance very welcome”
In a statement, The British Library said Jaeger's score of the Enigma Variations “had been missing from the research archive at Elgar’s Birthplace Museum for some 25 years” and that its “reappearance is very welcome”.
The library spokeswoman added: “The Elgar Foundation is in touch with the person who discovered the score, with a view to restoring it to its place in the research archive of music manuscripts and correspondence, which is now at the British Library.
“As an unusual hybrid of printed score, annotations and pasted-in passages, Jaeger's score will regain its full significance alongside the full autograph manuscript of the Enigma Variations, which is held at the Library.”
The Elgar Foundation did not respond to ATG’s requests for comment.