Drei mittelalterliche Lieder (Three Medieval Songs)
1. A Chantar - La Comtessa de Dia (circa 1140-1200)
2. O Quam Mirabilis - Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179)
3. O Virgo Ac Diadema - Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179)
The Saint Cecilia Series from Joanna Ross Hersey and Cimarron Music Press features brass arrangements of music by women and minority composers from the Medieval era to the present day. These arrangements showcase the work of composers who have contributed richly to our musical world, and provide us with a broader understanding of the development of music across the centuries, to enhance and invigorate our performances today.
One of the many poets and musicians who travelled France during the late Medieval era, La Comtessa Beatriz de Dia (c.1140-c.1175) specialized in songs of love.
She was a troubairitz, a female touring musician and composer, and her work in the late twelfth century has survived until today, though we know little about her.
Originally written in the Occitan language, this song discusses the frustrations of lost love. The lyrics outline the feeling of being abandoned, when the obligation of love has been broken, and conclude with a note to the betrayer that the song is a message, to beware the consequences of his actions.
Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) was a German abbess, mystic, writer and composer.
Given to the Catholic Church by her parents at the age of eight, Hildegard flourished under the creative atmosphere she found there, writing lyric poetry, biographies, works on medicine, natural history, and accounts of her personal mystical experiences.
She founded several convents for which she became abbess, and travelled extensively on missions throughout Germany. She is perhaps best remembered for her musical compositions intended for use at the convents, many of which have been preserved.
Hildegard´s songs generally praise saints or martyrs, and the majority are addressed to feminine religious figures, such as Saint Ursula and the Virgin Mary. O quam mirabilis can be heard as the title track on my 2010 compact disc, and O Virgo ac diadema was recorded on my 2015 release Zigzags.
These examples of Medieval song and monophonic chant would have originally been composed without bar-lines or detailed rhythmic notation.
They would have been learned by rote and sung by the nuns at the convents, or the troubadours on the road, perhaps with the addition of a second harmonic line, a bass drone, or instrumental accompaniment, which would have been improvised. The performer today should feel free to choose rhythms and tempos which suit you, and add dynamics as you see fit.
I have shortened these examples from longer works, and if you would like to investigate further, I refer you to currently published editions of this music, which can be purchased in modern vocal performing editions and arranged for any
instrument or ensemble.
These three works can be performed individually or in any combination or order. I encourage you to interpret, arrange and share this amazing music, which has been an expression of faith, sorrow, and joy for nearly nine hundred years.
Enjoy! Joanna Ross Hersey