We present several programmes on different themes of medieval music, like Spring and Summer Songs, Around the Mediterranean in the Middle Ages, Around the North Sea in the Middle Ages, L’amour courtoise, Maria Songs, Songs from the Crusades…
For a somewhat more detailed account please read on:
Scandinavian Medieval Repertoire
A broad presentation of both sacred and secular music from the whole of Scandinavia,…from the hymns to Magnus, the earliest example of polyphony . even in parallel thirds, a forbidden interval at the time, …to the hymn to st. Olav, restored from parchment pieces used as protection for tax payment-receipts in Copenhagen,…to the antiphon for sta. Birgitta, founder of the monastery in Vadstena (Sweden), …to the royal wedding song from 1281 when Eirik Magnusson married Margareta of Scotland in Bergen (Norway), …through to excerpts from the oldest Scandinavian song.collection Piae Cantiones, a Finnish-Swedish manuscript from 1580 which also contains songs from a much earlier period, songs that give us advice on how to live, songs for all the major church celebrations as well as student songs about school tiredness and feasting… .even a song from the time before Scandinavia was christened on the medieval epos Voluspaa from Iceland …to mention some highlights!
English Medieval Music
Both sacred and secular repertoire, from the hymns by St. Godric (1080?-1170), dictated to him by Mary herself, according to the legend, to unique three- part settings like angelus ad virginem and love songs, a unique and beautiful musical tradition, unfortunately very seldom performed.Carmina Burana Moral and satirical songs, love-songs, spring-songs and drinking-songs from this collection from the late 13. century found at the monastery of Benediktbeuren near München.We present a selection of the original melodies as they have been transcribed from the neumatic notation in the manuscript.
Cantigas de Santa Maria
From one of the Middle Ages’ most important places of pilgrimage, Santiago de Compostella, a unique collection of not less than 420 songs, all addressed to Mary! King Alfonso X, ”el Sabio” (”the wise”) made sure that the multitude of songs the pilgrims sang when they finally came to Santiago, were written down and wonderfully illustrated during the 13. century. We owe a lot of what we know about the times’ instruments to this fantastic manuscript! Many of the songs narrate of the most incredible miracles which Mary performed, many of them illustrated as a sort of ”cartoon” for the benefit of those who could nor read! In our concerts we tell all about them!
From another important place of pilgrimage, Monserrat in Catalonia (Spain), the priciest treasure of the monastery’s library is this manuscript containing pilgrims’ songs written down between 1396 and 1399 and bound in red velvet – thereof the name Llibre Vermeil, the red book. All ten of the songs included in the manuscript are adoration songs dedicated to Mary, the monastery’s Protector. Some of them originally had a secular text which was changed to suit the demands of the church.
A unique music tradition which blossomed in the north of France during the 12th and13th centuries, mainly around the courts of members of the same family, that of Eleanor of Aquitaine: She was the grandchild of the first troubadour, William IX of Aquitaine, she became both queen of France and queen of England(!) and both she and her children, (among them Richard the Lion heart), were either trouveres themselves or mycenes of their art – a music art which is considered to be one of the highlights of European culture.
At the same time, in southern France and in northern Spain, blossomed the art of the troubadours: Beautiful poetry and music mostly expressing love for an Unattainable Lady. Passionate love-songs, but also sometimes humoristic – an unsurpassed expression of love which moves today’s audiences as much as it did those of it’s contemporaries.
In Germany, a little later , appear the minnesänger who also write on the same subject as the troubadours and the trouveres, with Oswald von Wolkenstein (1377-1445) as their most prominent figure. He led a very dramatic life which he tells us a lot about in his 125 songs.
The French-Cypriotic Manuscript
A manuscript comprising of 102 love-ballads, written down some time between 1414 and 1420, containing the secular music used in the French-Cypriot court (between 1192 and 1489 the island of Cyprus was governed by Frenchmen), all composers unknown to us composer – something of a rule rather than the exception during those times.
Songs from the Crusades
Songs and dances from the time between 1128 and 1250 connected to the different crusades: Invitations to participate, farewell songs, the waiting fiancé’s lament, the famous Palestinalied by Walter von der Vogelweide (c.1170-c.1230)… Moving songs depicting a turbulent period and a tragic phenomenon in history.
Worship-songs from the manuscript Laudario Maglibechiano (Firenze).
These songs represent a special and most expressive musical tradition of religious “folk” music from the 12. and 13. century’s Italy. These songs were preformed by “companies” of singers and instrumentalists at the biggest churches , particularly during the different saints’ celebration days. Most of them are, again, in honour of Mary.
Les Chansons a la Vierge
A parallel to the Cantigas de Santa Maria, although in smaller measure and the only example of religious songs by the trouveres: Gautier de Coinci (1177-1236), a trouvere yet a monk and eventually a prior, composed songs as well as ”borrowed” melodies from other trouveres and changed their text to fit his subject: Love-songs to Mary! A very seldom performed collection of treasures which combines the immortal melody lines of the trouveres with the religious fervour of the medieval cult of adoration of Mary.
The great medieval composers
Guilhaume de Machaut (1300-1377) with his polyphonic love-songs, Guillaume Dufay (1400-1474), Pierre Abelard (1079-1142) with his David’s Lament , one og the time’s longest and most through- composed pieces, Trecento masters (Italy) like Francesco Landini (1325-1397), the universal genius Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) and other women composers from that period like Contesa de Dia (12.cent.) and earlier still Kassia (810-843…867), to mention some, are all part of the group’s repertoire.
We present special theme-programmes like the above mentioned, secular or religious or combinations of both and of the different programmes.
A selection from the above mentioned programmes is presented in our CDs of medieval love-songs: Ahi! Amours, and MARIAM MATREM of Marian-songs.