Sequentia

Ensemble for Medieval Music. Benjamin Bagby, Director

English | Français
Sequentia celebrates its 40th anniversary in March 2017
 
 

Contact

E-mail: info@sequentia.org

Representation
(Europe)

Katja Zimmermann
VCzimmermann@gmx.net

Representation
(exclusive of Europe)

Seth Cooper
Seth Cooper Arts Inc.
4592 Hampton Ave.
Montréal, QC, Canada
www.sethcooperarts.com
sethcooper.arts@gmail.com
Tel: 514-467-5052

In association for
Season 2016-2017 with:

Jon Aaron
Aaron Concert Artists 
220 West 148th St. 4J
New York City 10039, NY / USA
Tel: 212-665-0313
jon@aaronconcert.com

 

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Lost Songs of a Rhineland Harper

CD (total time 74:29)

Recorded September 2002 at DeutschlandRadio / Sendesaal des Funkhauses Köln (D)

Released 2004 by Deutsche Harmonia Mundi / BMG Classics (82876589402) in co-production with DeutschlandRadio and WDR Köln

Booklet 47 pp.

 

Benjamin Bagby writes: ‘What did secular European song sound like one thousand years ago? Who were its singers and what instruments did they play? Where, and under what circumstances, have their songs survived? Can we ever hope to reconstruct music from such a distant age? These are the questions which led to my initial search for the lost songs of a performing musician whose name remains unknown to us, a search which now culminates - or at least pauses for reflection - in this program: Lost Songs of a Rhineland Harper.’

Almost one thousand years ago a collection Latin and German song was copied into a manuscript by Anglo-Saxon monks in the Abbey of St. Augustine in Canterbury, England. The original source - or sources - has long since disappeared, but the manuscript copy has survived to this day, and is now found in the library of Cambridge University. Although we will never know what its exact origin was, one thing is clear: many of the songs copied by the monks come from the milieu of learned, aristocratic churchmen in the Rhineland, where cities such as Cologne were centers of culture and power in Germany at the turn of the first millennium. In addition, it is striking that many of the song texts from this collection display an intimate working knowledge of music, the voice, and instruments, especially the harp (cithara, lira) and even the flute (tibia). When considering possible sources of the Canterbury collection, the evidence points strongly to the performance repertoire of a learned citharista, a bi-lingual harper/singer from the Rhineland, whose songs delighted not only aristocratic bishops and their courts, but also powerful abbots, secular nobility (perhaps even the Kaiser), and the young clerical intelligentsia of those bustling river towns with their imposing cathedrals. Here we have the songs of a professional entertainer whose audience was expected to pay for his services (and he might easily have been joined on occasion by another minstrel from the ranks of the itinerant players, or even a poetically-inclined clerical cantor). Our program combines some of the earliest-known musical manuscripts of European song with reconstructions from the Canterbury manuscript, to give a glimpse into the deliciously subtle, long-lost world of an unknown Rhineland harper and his sophisticated audience.