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There's no reason to think that Ordo virtutum would have been performed like monophonic song as far as I know - rather than with instruments improvising. Here for example, with a drone and some bells


here a bit more elaborately

We don't know definitively if Hildegard and her nuns had access to instruments or used them in their music-making. There are some scant general references to instruments and harmonic simultaneities recorded in Hildegard's extant letters and treatises. In one of Hildegard's medical writings, she references the monochord, an ancient one stringed instrument that provided the foundation of medieval music theory. Other medieval instruments that existed during Hildegard's life include the vielle, harp, portative organ, drums, and drone instruments, mentioned by Mandryka, such as the symphonia or bagpipes. Hildegard refers to instruments in this passage from her writings:

"And so the holy prophets, inspired by the spirits which they had received were called for this purpose: not only to compose songs and canticles (by which the hearts of the listeners could be inflamed) but also to construct various kinds of musical instruments to enhance these songs of praise with melodic strains. Thereby, both through the form and quality of the instruments, as well as through the meaning of the words which accompany them, those who hear might be taught, as we said above, about inward things, since they have been admonished and aroused by outward things[.] They accompanied their singing with instruments played with the flexing of the fingers, recalling in this way Adam, who was formed by God's finger, which is the holy spirit."

Hildegard often speaks in metaphor, and this passage in particular is part of an elaborate metaphor about the importance of music in the lives of Hildegard and her nuns. The passage doesn't imply the use of instruments in connection to her music or for use in a liturgical context; however, it does indicate that she had an understanding of musical instruments that went beyond Biblical scholarship, and that she envisioned them as part of the divine music of the universe as she experienced in her visions.
 

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Seems [Hildegard of Bingen] was writing about female anatomy and reproduction too with interesting theories about how all that worked. How she would have known anything about that as a presumably chaste nun is fun for speculation.
Seems, sir? Nay, she did. Hildegard's analysis of human anatomy and sexual reproduction followed Aristotelian lines as qualified by Porphyry and Galen. Hildegard's writings also show familiarity with several Medieval treatises on those subjects, including Constantine of Africa's On the Nature of Man, and Hugh St. Viktor's On the Members and Parts of Man. In her Scivias, Hildegard reports that the result of mystical illumination was the increase in understanding of the meaning of texts with which she was already familiar. It should not be forgotten that Hildegard worked as a nurse-physician in the infirmary and hospice connected to her monastery. As a result of her acute powers of observation and organization of information, she wrote a scientific treatise classifying the curative powers of herbs. She also wrote a text in which she analyzed the biological composition of men and women and the effects of these factors on personality and human interaction. In her description of paradise, Hildegard states that a woman reproduced by herself, without the help of a man. Only after the Fall, alas, was a man required to get the job done.
 

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That's a lot of composers with imperfect counterpoint then.
Palestrina is among the most influential composers of all time. His contrapuntal style was codified by Johann Fux, whose book Gradus ad Parnassum ("Steps to Paradise"), published in 1725, broke Palestrina's contrapuntal technique down into five types or "species" of counterpoint. Fux's work has been the bedrock of counterpoint pedagogy, making it among the most important and widest read books on music ever written. J. S. Bach held it in the highest esteem. According to Haydn's first biographer, his personal friend Georg August von Griesinger, "Haydn took infinite pains to assimilate the theory of Fux". Leopold Mozart instructed his son Wolfgang from his personal copy of Fux's Gradus ad Parnassum and Mozart himself used the Gradus later in life when he himself taught. It became Beethoven's guide to composition and he used it in his own teaching as well. When Fux's tome was translated into French in 1833 and sold by subscription, the subscribers included Berlioz, Cherubini, Meyerbeer, Chopin, Rossini, Paganini, Ignaz Moscheles, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, and Liszt. Schubert, Brahms, and Bruckner all studied Palestrinan counterpoint using the original, Latin-language version of Fux's Gradus ad Parnassum.
 

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Kapsberger's villanellas are an utterly delightful part of his little heard vocal oeuvre. There is a terrific recording by Les Kapsber'girls (their maiden disc) and another by L'Arpeggiata led by Christina Pluhar who writes: "An artistic imitation of traditional music, the villanella turned its back on the stile nuovo of Florentine monody, with its affetti and virtuosic passagi.... Kapsberger wrote no fewer than seven books devoted to the villanella. These pieces, covering a wide range of styles, are among the finest ever written."

 

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Re Kapsberger's lute music, Rick, maybe you'll enjoy Lukas Henning on YouTube.

In addition to performing solo works, Henning plays with Sollazzo Ensemble, who have just released a second volume of music from the Leuven Chansonnier. It contains that most rare thing, a song (possibly) by Busnois!
Mandryka, thanks for alerting me to Lukas Henning. I had never heard of him. For a walk on Kapsberger's avant-gardish, dramatic wild side I've always enjoyed Rolf Lislevand's recording of the fourth book. His teacher, Hopkinson Smith, is also quite good. Paul O'Dette on the other hand is rather too conservative and flat for my taste. I'm glad you mentioned Busnois. His Seule a par moy is one of the most beautiful things the Renaissance produced. Joshua Rifkin's recording from way back when made me a Busnoisnite for life.
 

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I now wonder if it's just a mistake to say that Corelli op 5 are church sonatas. Listening now to Corelli op 1, which are explicitly designated sonate da chiesa, and it seems less theatrical -- as suited to liturgy as the Kuhnau biblical sonatas certainly -- Kuhnau himself probably influenced by Italian style.

Corelli Op 1 is very agreeable! Every bit as agreeable as the Biber Rosary sonatas, I would say -- same sort of thing! I couldn't put a cigarette paper between them.
Corelli's Op. 5 sonatas are a mixture in equal proportion of church and chamber styles, with a lot of convergence between the two, a common practice of the time. His sonatas are cast in much the same forms and styles as their predecessors. So-called church sonatas were played as much outside the church as inside it; the designation refers more to stylistic norms (the inclusion of strict fugal counterpoint in the 'church' style) than to location. I've read somewhere that Corelli, as a good Italian, introduced an element of lyricism into the church sonata found before only in vocal music.

Corelli did not use the term sonata da chiesa (church sonata) to describe his Op. 1 Sonatas. He referred to them as Sonate a trè. They weren't conceived for use in church although if we're to believe Johann Mattheson they could be used to accompany worship.

Enjoy the ciggy!
 

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Well [the congregation] certainly complained about his organ music in Leipzig, and his management took action to keep their target market happy.
I don't think there were complaints in Leipzig about Bach's organ music. Perhaps you meant Arnstadt. After hearing Buxtehude play in Lübeck in 1705 Bach returned to Arnstadt full of new ideas and enthusiasm which he immediately put into practice in his playing. The congregation however was completely surprised and bewildered by his new musical ideas: there was considerable confusion during the singing of the chorales, caused by his 'surprising variations and irrelevant ornaments which obliterate the melody and confuse the congregation'. The Church Council resolved to reprimand Bach on his 'strange sounds' during the services. The Council further added the complaint that he had been "entertaining a strange damsel" in the organ loft of the church. It was whispered around town that 'Bach's organ had no stops'.
 

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Thomas Arne's galant secular cantatas are beguiling. They show Arne's mastery in matters of orchestration, and his concern for the co-ordination of instrumental timbres with poetic ideas. Each cantata is scored differently, with the scoring often reflecting specific textual images.

 

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“…never have I had such a success! I can’t get over it. Everyone seems to love the Concert.” I certainly do, ever since I heard the magnificent Thibaud/Cortot recording many moons ago. Chausson’s unique and intensely expressive Concert for Violin, Piano and String Quartet is for me one of the pinnacles of Romantic chamber music.
 

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I just don’t have the genes for that sort of romanticism. The god gene and the romantic music gene - I lack them both.
God knows we all have our limits. The danger, as Schopenhauer reminds us, is to take the limits of our own field of vision for the limits of the world. A well-known neuro-philosopher once told me that she was embarrassed by poetry. She has always been a committed atheist but now describes herself as a pantheist, the religion of the Romantic poets. One never knows how genes may mutate in the course of a lifetime.
 

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i can easily listen to rheingold before lunch; tristan after lunch; mahler's third before dinner; and mahler's ninth after dinner; that's my idea of a perfect day; between these i would read some stories by borges; as a matter of fact that is exactly what i did a week ago
I can see how that might be enjoyable, provided one doesn't get indigestion. Interestingly, Borges himself was tone deaf. He never listened to Wagner and when questioned said he had never even heard of Mahler.
 

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I'm not familiar with The Miserly Knight, but I'll take your word for it.

That said, I've seen perfectly good plays, musicals, and operettas presented in a most boring way.

Is it possible that the opera isn't bad at all, and that you merely wandered into a lousy production of it?
Or the opera company may just have been having a bad Knight.
 

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Howard Hanson described his Second Symphony as “a work young in spirit, Romantic in temperament, and simple and direct in expression.” Roger Sessions used to say that music, first and above all, must have a face. This music has one and it remains my favorite symphony by an American composer.
 
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