Medieval Music

1000-1100

c. 1000 Hungary and Scandinavia converted to Christianity. 

c. 1008 Murasaki Shikibu finishes The Tale of Genji, the world's first novel.

1040 Macbeth murders Duncan, king of Scotland.

1055 Seljuk Turks, Asian nomads, move west, capture Baghdad, Armenia (1064), Syria, and Palestine (1075).

1068 Construction on the cathedral in Pisa, Italy, begins.

1095 At Council of Clermont, Pope Urban II calls for a holy war to wrest control of Jerusalem from Muslims, which launches the First Crusade (1096).


1013
Hermann of Reichenau was a 11th-century scholar, composer, music theorist, mathematician, and astronomer.
c. 1060
Adam of Saint Victor was a prolific poet and composer of Latin hymns and sequences. 
1071
William IX, Duke of Aquitaine, he is best known as the earliest troubadour.
1079
Abelard Peter was a medieval French scholastic philosopher, theologian and preeminent, "the keenest thinker and boldest theologian of the 12th Century".
1098
Hildegard of Bingen, was a German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, visionary, and polymath.

 


Hermann of Reichenau

Hermann of Reichenau (July 18, 1013 – September 24, 1054), also called Hermannus Contractus or Hermannus Augiensis or Herman the Cripple, was a 11th-century scholar, composer, music theorist, mathematician, and astronomer. He composed the Marian prayer Alma Redemptoris Mater.










 

 

 

Hermann was a son of the earl of Altshausen. He was crippled by a paralytic disease from early childhood. He was born July 18, 1013 with a cleft palatecerebral palsy and is said to have had spina bifida. Based on the evidence, however, more recent scholarship indicates Hermann possibly had either amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or spinal muscular atrophy. As a result, he had great difficulty moving and could hardly speak. At seven, he was placed in a Benedictine monastery by his parents who could no longer look after him. He grew up in the monastery, learning from the monks and developing a keen interest in both theology and the world around him.

He spent most of his life in the Abbey of Reichenau, an island on Lake Constance. Hermann contributed to all four arts of the quadrivium. He was renowned as a musical composer (among his surviving works are officia for St. Afra and St. Wolfgang). As a historian, he wrote a detailed chronicle from the birth of Christ to his own present day, ordering them after the reckoning of the Christian era. One of his disciples Berthold of Reichenau continued it.






Hermann of Reichenau - Salve Regina
 

At twenty, Hermann was professed as a Benedictine monk, spending the rest of his life in a monastery. He was literate in several languages, including ArabicGreek and Latin and wrote about mathematicsastronomy and Christianity. He built musical and astronomical instruments and was also a famed religious poet. When he went blind in later life, he began writing hymns, the best known of which is Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen).
 

Herman died in a monastery on September 24, 1054, aged 40. The Roman Catholic Church beatified him in 1863.


Adam of Saint Victor

Adam of Saint Victor (died 1146) was a prolific poet and composer of Latin hymns and sequences. He is believed to have sparked the expansion of the poetic and musical repertoire in the Notre Dame school with his strongly rhythmic and imagery-filled poetry. In Mont Saint Michel and ChartresHenry Adams wrote that Adam "aimed at obtaining his effect from the skillful use of the Latin sonorities for purposes of the chant."

The first reference to him is from 1098, in the archives of Notre Dame Cathedral, where he was first a subdeacon, and later a precentor. He left the cathedral for the Abbey of Saint Victor around 1133, probably because of his attempts at imposing the Rule of St Augustine at the cathedral.
 

Adam probably had contact with a number of important theologians, poets, and musicians of his day, including Peter Abelard and Hugh of St Victor, and he may have taught Albertus Parisiensis.

Adam of St Victor’ surviving works are sequences for liturgical use, not theological treatises. Around 47 sequences by Adam survive. In a practice that developed from the ninth century onwards, these are poems composed to be sung during the mass, between the Alleluia and the gospel reading. The sequence therefore bridges the Old Testament or epistle readings and the gospel, both literarily and musically.






Adam de Saint-Victor 'SUPERNE MATRIS GAUDIA'

William IX, Duke of Aquitaine

William IX (22 October 1071 – 11 February 1127), called the Troubador, was the Duke of Aquitaine and Gascony and Count of Poitou (as William VII) between 1086 and his death. He was also one of the leaders of the Crusade of 1101. Though his political and military achievements have a certain historical importance, he is best known as the earliest troubadour — a vernacular lyric poet in the Occitan language — whose work survived.















Poetic career

 

William's greatest legacy to history was not as a warrior but as a troubadour — a lyric poet employing the Romance vernacular language called Provençal or Occitan.

He was the earliest troubadour whose work survives. Eleven of his songs survive (Merwin, 2002). The song traditionally numbered as the eighth (Farai chansoneta nueva) is of dubious attribution, since its style and language are significantly different (Pasero 1973, Bond 1982). Song 5 (Farai un vers, pos mi sonelh) has two significantly different versions in different manuscripts. The songs are attributed to him under his title as Count of Poitou (lo coms de Peitieus). The topics vary, treating sex, love, women, his own sexual and literary prowess, and feudal politics.
 

An anonymous 13th-century vida of William remembers him thus:
 

The Count of Poitiers was one of the most courtly men in the world and one of the greatest deceivers of women. He was a fine knight at arms, liberal in his womanizing, and a fine composer and singer of songs. He traveled much through the world, seducing women.
 

It is possible, however, that at least in part it is not based on facts, but on literal interpretation of his songs, written in first person; in Song 5, for example, he describes how he deceived two women.

In a striking departure from the typical attitude toward women in the period, William seems to have held at least one woman in particularly high esteem, composing several poems in homage to this woman, who he refers to as midons (master):
 

Every joy must abase itself,
and every might obey
in the presence of Midons, for the sweetness of her welcome,
for her beautiful and gentle look;
and a man who wins to the joy of her love
will live a hundred years.
The joy of her can make the sick man well again,
her wrath can make a well man die,

 

His frankness, wit and vivacity caused scandal and won admiration at the same time. He is among the first Romance vernacular poets of the Middle Ages, one of the founders of a tradition that would culminate in DantePetrarch, and François VillonEzra Pound mentions him in Canto VIII:
 

And Poictiers, you know, Guillaume Poictiers,
had brought the song up out of Spain
with the singers and viels...

 

Peter Abelard

Peter Abelard (1079 – 21 April 1142) was a medieval French scholastic philosophertheologian and preeminent logician. His affair with and love for Héloïse d'Argenteuil has become legendary. The Chambers Biographical Dictionary describes him as "the keenest thinker and boldest theologian of the 12th Century".























Music
 

Abelard was also long known as an important poet and composer. He composed some celebrated love songs for Héloïse that are now lost, and which have not been identified in the anonymous repertoire. Héloïse praised these songs in a letter: "The great charm and sweetness in language and music, and a soft attractiveness of the melody obliged even the unlettered".

Abelard composed a hymnbook for the religious community that Héloïse joined. This hymnbook, written after 1130, differed from contemporary hymnals, such as that of Bernard of Clairvaux, in that Abelard used completely new and homogeneous material. The songs were grouped by metre, which meant that comparatively few melodies could be used. Only one melody from this hymnal survives, O quanta qualia.

Abelard also wrote six biblical planctus (laments):

  • Planctus Dinae filiae Iacob; inc.: Abrahae proles Israel nata (Planctus I)

  • Planctus Iacob super filios suos; inc.: Infelices filii, patri nati misero (Planctus II)

  • Planctus virginum Israel super filia Jepte Galadite; inc.: Ad festas choreas celibes (Planctus III)

  • Planctus Israel super Samson; inc.: Abissus vere multa (Planctus IV)

  • Planctus David super Abner, filio Neronis, quem Ioab occidit; inc.: Abner fidelissime (Planctus V)

  • Planctus David super Saul et Jonatha; inc.: Dolorum solatium (Planctus VI).






    Peter Abelard- Planctus David super Saul et Ionatha
     

In surviving manuscripts these pieces have been notated in diastematic neumes which resist reliable transcription. Only Planctus VI was fixed in square notation. Planctus as genre influenced the subsequent development of the lai, a song form that flourished in northern Europe in the 13th and 14th centuries.

Melodies that have survived have been praised as "flexible, expressive melodies [that] show an elegance and technical adroitness that are very similar to the qualities that have been long admired in Abelard's poetry."

Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard of Bingen, (1098 – 17 September 1179), also known as Saint Hildegard and Sibyl of the Rhine, was a German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mysticvisionary, and polymath.

She is considered to be the founder of scientific natural history in Germany.

Hildegard was elected magistra by her fellow nuns in 1136; she founded the monasteries of Rupertsberg in 1150 and Eibingen in 1165. One of her works as a composer, the Ordo Virtutum, is an early example of liturgical drama and arguably the oldest surviving morality play. She wrote theological, botanical, and medicinal texts, as well as letters, liturgical songs, and poems, while supervising miniature illuminations in the Rupertsberg manuscript of her first work, Scivias. She is also noted for the invention of a constructed language known as Lingua Ignota.

Although the history of her formal consideration is complicated, she has been recognized as a saint by branches of the Roman Catholic Church for centuries. On 7 October 2012, Pope Benedict XVI named her a Doctor of the Church.















 






Music
 

Attention in recent decades to women of the medieval Church has led to a great deal of popular interest in Hildegard's music. In addition to the Ordo Virtutum, sixty-nine musical compositions, each with its own original poetic text, survive, and at least four other texts are known, though their musical notation has been lost. This is one of the largest repertoires among medieval composers.

One of her better known works, Ordo Virtutum (Play of the Virtues), is a morality play. It is uncertain when some of Hildegard’s compositions were composed, though the Ordo Virtutum is thought to have been composed as early as 1151. The morality play consists of monophonic melodies for the Anima (human soul) and 16 Virtues. There is also one speaking part for the Devil. Scholars assert that the role of the Devil would have been played by Volmar, while Hildegard's nuns would have played the parts of Anima and the Virtues.






Hildegard von Bingen - Canticles of Ecstasy

 

In addition to the Ordo Virtutum Hildegard composed many liturgical songs that were collected into a cycle called the Symphonia armoniae celestium revelationum. The songs from the Symphonia are set to Hildegard's own text and range from antiphons, hymns, and sequences, to responsories. Her music is described as monophonic, that is, consisting of exactly one melodic line. Its style is characterized by soaring melodies that can push the boundaries of the more staid ranges of traditional Gregorian chant. Though Hildegard's music is often thought to stand outside the normal practices of monophonic monastic chant, current researchers are also exploring ways in which it may be viewed in comparison with her contemporaries, such as Hermannus Contractus. Another feature of Hildegard's music that both reflects twelfth-century evolutions of chant and pushes those evolutions further is that it is highly melismatic, often with recurrent melodic units. Scholars such as Margot Fassler, Marianne Richert Pfau, and Beverly Lomer also note the intimate relationship between music and text in Hildegard's compositions, whose rhetorical features are often more distinct than is common in twelfth-century chant. As with all medieval chant notation, Hildegard's music lacks any indication of tempo or rhythm; the surviving manuscripts employ late German style notation, which uses very ornamental neumes. The reverence for the Virgin Mary reflected in music shows how deeply influenced and inspired Hildegard of Bingen and her community were by the Virgin Mary and the saints.

The definition of viriditas or "greenness" is an earthly expression of the heavenly in an integrity that overcomes dualisms. This greenness or power of life appears frequently in Hildegard's works.

Despite Hildegard's self-professed view that her compositions have as object the praise of God, one scholar has asserted that Hildegard made a close association between music and the female body in her musical compositions. According to him, the poetry and music of Hildegard’s Symphonia would therefore be concerned with the anatomy of female desire thus described as Sapphonic, or pertaining to Sappho, connecting her to a history of female rhetoricians.

Abelard and Heloïse in a manuscript of the Roman de la Rose (14th century)

llumination from the Liber Scivias showing Hildegard receiving a vision and dictating to her scribe and secretary​

 
 
 
 
 

In the The Tale of Genji, Murasaki described court life, as depicted in this exterior scene titled "Royal Outing"

 

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