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Umeå Akademiska Kör

Early Vocal Music Map

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  • Research and text by Chris Whent at HOASM (Here on a Sunday Morning - WBAI 99.5 FM New York)
  • Composer Bibliography - links to Wikipedia and HOASM
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II. The Central Middle Ages (1100-1350)

IIa. Troubadours, Trouvrs and Minnesinger

We meet the figure of the knightly singer not only in such operas as Wagner's 'Tannhäuser' and Verdi's 'Il Trovatore,' but throughout all literature, Not only poets, but people of all times have been fascinated by the personification of noble blood and culture for which knighthood, with its dangers and adventures, became a symbol.

Knighthood began to express itself in poetry and music during the 12th Century in Provence, in Southern France. A precious art emanates from that period: the earliest secular lyric poetry of the West which, with great charm, is devoted to the cult of love. Its peculiarity is that the poet creates not only the words but the music as well. The word 'Troubadour' stems from the Provençal word 'trovar' which means 'to invent'. The Troubadour soon appeared all over Europe: in Northern France where he was called 'Trouvère,' in Germany where he was called 'Minnesinger,' and also in Italy and England.

This inventive art is strictly separate from the polyphonic music which began to blossom at that time, and in which the Troubadour was very seldom versed. The Troubadour did not perform his songs himself, but employed others called 'Jongleurs' in Provençal, 'Ménéstrel' in French, and 'Minstrel' in English.

It is characteristic of the romanticism of that time that such songs would be used as a medium of communication rather than letters, especially since the ability to read was not very widespread. The singing minstrel would thus express the Troubadour's devotion by singing to his lady love. There is a tale that the faithful Blondel de Nesle, servant of Richard the Lionhearted, put into song news from home while Richard was imprisoned in a tower. Alas, it appears not to be true.

The art of the troubadours flourished in France for four generations. Some 460 troubadours have been identified, and of these music by some 42 has survived. One of the last and most renowned troubadours was Adam de la Halle. He was not of noble blood, but come from a respected bourgeois family living at Arras. At Arras he was employed at various times by Count Robert II of Artois. In 1283, Adam moved to Naples with the Count, where he was employed and held in high regard by the French court of Charles d'Anjou of Sicily. He died there a few years later. While in Naples he created his famous 'Jeu de Robin et Marion'. It is a naive dramatic pastoral with many short songs sung by the leading actors. It went down in the history of French Literature as the secular Singspiel, or song-play. His gracefully turned melodies typify the charm of the art of the troubadours.

Composers bibliography and music

Name and link to Whents Bibliography Years Country # of PDF/Midi Discography MP3
Anonymus Music from Montpellier Codex 13th C France . . MP3
Anonymus Cantigas de Santa Maria 13th C Spain . . MP3
Aimeric de Peguilhan c.1170-1230 France? . Discography .
Alexander (known as 'Der Meister' or 'Der Wilde') late 13:th c. Germany? . Discography .
Alfonso X 1221-1284. Spain cpdl=2? Discography MP3
Andrieu (d'Arras) c.1180-1248 France . . .
Arnaut Daniel fl.1180-1200 France? . . .
Bertran de Born c.1140-1215? France . Discography .
Blondel de Nesle c.1155-? France . . .
Jehan Bodel c.1165-1210 Provance (France) . . .
Jehan Bretel c.1210-1272 France . . .
Peire Cardenal ?-1275 France? . . .
Chastelain de Coucy (Gui II de Coucy) c.1160-1203 France . . .
Martin Codax fl.13th century Spain . Discography .
Colin Muset fl.early 13th century . . . .
Conon de Béthune c.1160-1219 France . . .
Jehan Erart c.1205-1258/9 France . . .
Ernoul le Vieux ? France? . . .
Folquet de Marselh (Marseilles) c1155-1231 France . Discography .
Friedrich von Hûsen ?-1190 Germany . . .
Gace Brulé c.1159-1212/3 France? . . .
Gaucelm Faidit c.1170-1230 . . Discography .
Gautier de Coinci 1177/8-1236 France . Discography .
Gillebert de Berneville fl.mid 13th century Flandern . . .
Gilles le Vinier 1190-1252 France . . .
Guillaume le Vinier c.1190-1245 France . . .
Guiot de Dijon fl.early 13th century Bourgogne (France) . Discography .
Guiot de Provins c.1145-1208 France? . . .
Guiraut de Bornelh c.1138-c.1215 Navarra (Spain) . Discography .
Guiraut Riquier c.1230-1292 France? . . .
Hartman von der Aue fl. c.1200 Sachsen (Germany) . . .
Heinrich von Mügeln (Müglin) ?-after 1369 Germany . . .
Jaufré Rudel c.1120-1147 France? . . .
Marcabru fl.1129-1148 France? . . .
Moniot d'Arras c.1190-1239 France . . .
Monk (Monge) of Montaudan ?-c.1220 France . . .
Neidhart von Reuental c.1180-1237/46 Austria . . .
Pierre I (Pierre Mauclerc) ?-1250 Normandie (France) . . .
Raimbaud de Vacqueiras 1155-1207 Italy? . Discography .
Richard de Fournival c.1190-1260 Picadie (France) . Discography .
Richard I 1157-1199 England . . .
Rogeret de Cambrai 13th century . . Discography .
Meister Rumelant fl. c.1275 Germany? . . .
Sordello ?-after 1269 Italy . . .
Tannhäuser c.1200-1266 Germany . . .
Thibaut IV 1201-1253 Navarre (Spain/France) . . .
Der Unversagte 13th century Germany? . . .
Peire Vidal c.1160-1205 Provence (France) . Discography .
Walther von der Vogelweide c.1170-c.1230 Germany? . . .
William IX 1071-1127 England . . .
Wizlaw III von Rügen c.1265-1325 Rgen? . . .
Wolfram von Eschenbach fl.1207 Germany . . .

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