Carmina Burana / Studio der frühen Musik
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CARMINA BURANA from the Original Manuscript


The music selected for our record from the “Carmina Burana” belongs to an extensive period of time, beginning around 1080, embracing the whole of the twelfth century and probably reaching into the first, possibly even the second half of the thirteenth.

At the beginning of this period, Gregorian Chant has established itself as the standard liturgical music of all Latin-Christian Europe — unison, partly syllabic, partly melismatic solo and choral song on the texts of the mass and the office. The peoples north of the Alps begin to intervene creatively in the musical repertoire (from 800 onward), contributing new texts for interpolation in the liturgy; their typical forms are the trope and the sequence. There already exists alongside these the early writing for more than one part that has arisen in the form of organum since the 9th century in the same region of Europe — its first independent musical achievement. — Just around 1080 the West begins with its first secular music: the courtly art of the troubadours, which arises in the Provençale-speaking region of France.

Organum enters upon a new phase with the beginning of the 12th century. A new kind of two-part liturgical music, laid out on a large scale and with a richly melismatic upper part. is developed into an impressive repertoire in the centres of St. Martial near Limoges and Santiago de Compostela (the St. James Liturgy); Southern France and Northern Spain are closely connected in cultural history. — The art of the troubadours spreads quickly from its first centre, the court of the Count of Aquitaine, through the French and English courts. Bernart de Ventadorn becomes in outstanding figure in the second half of the century (d. 1195). The flourishing of this art, which lasted the whole century, was brought to an end by the Albingensian Wan (1209-29). — Stimulated by the troubadours' world of chivalry. the German minnesang comes into being around the turn of the century and, around 1170, the art of the trouvères in Northern France. The chanson de gate, rondeau, virelai, ballade, lai, estampie and other types of song are cultivated all over France.

The second half of the century sees a brilliant new beginning, again in the field of organum. The cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris becomes the centre of European music. The new organum in measured rhythm comes into being, firmly constructed compositions constantly increasing in their dimensions and collected in the “Magnus liber organi”. Leoninus is the ‘optimus organista’. He is followed by Perotinus Magnus, ho leads this art to its culmination in his three-part organs tripla and the two four-part organa quadrupla “Viderunt” (omnes fines) and “Sederunt principes”. He is named “optimus discantor”. He remodels the “Magnus liber organi”. The an of ‘discantus’, in which the tenor (otherwise a sustained ‘cantus firmus’) acquires a powerful rhythmic motion as well as the upper parts, is richly cultivated by him in the ‘clausulae’ he himself wrote for insertion into the organum; these have come down to us in collections of ‘clausulae’. These decades before and after 1200 see the first absolute zenith of western music. The organum of Notre Dame is practised right down into the 14th century. — Alongside organum we also find the type of writing known as ‘conductus’. Around the middle of the 13th century the clausula frees itself from the organum; its upper voices acquire a text of their own, and it thus becomes the ‘motetus’, whose complex character demands the development of mensural notation when written down. The motet is now composed as an independent work of art and as the characteristic new form of the “Ars antiqua” that is cultivated for the remainder of the century. — The art of the trouvères flourishes throughout the century; Adam de la Halle (d. ca. 1286) is the great master of its late period. In the same decades before and after 1200 that brought forth the outstanding art of organum in France, the minnesang flourishes in full glory in Germany.


The beginning of our period sees the end of the struggle for power between the emperor Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII. Henry marches into Italy in 1081, besieges Rome and forces the deposition of Gregory, who dies in exile at Salerno in 1085. Henry IV (d. 1106) is followed by the last of the Salian emperors, Henry V (1106-25); Lothar of Saxony is followed in 1138 by the great line of Hohenstaufen emperors: Konrad III (1138-52), Frederick I Barbarossa (1152-90), Henry VI (1190-97), Frederick II (1212-1250). The age of constant struggles for primacy of power in the West between emperor and pope continues, with repeated invasions of Italy by the emperors. Urban II (1088-99), Alexander III (1159-81) and Innocence III (1198-1216) are the most prominent papal figures of the age. The quarrel finally remains unresolved. but at least the Investiture Dispute is settled in 1122 by the Worms Concordat. — A Hohenstaufen-Guelph quarrel over the throne lasting over many years breaks out twice in the empire; it is occasioned by the election of Konrad Ill in 1138 and the double election of Philip of Swabia and Otto of Brunswick (temporarily as Otto IV) in 1198.

In 1091 Roger, the Norman ruler of Southern Italy, conquers Sicily. His son, as Roger II. becomes King of the Two Sicielies (Southern Italy and Sicily) in 1130. The Norman Kingdom (until 1198) is an important ally of the pope. Barbarossa, who unites the imperial crown with the German, Italian-Langobardic and Burgundian royal crowns in one hand, additionally secures the crown of Sicily for his son Henry VI, through the latter's marriage with Constance of Sicily. Thus Henry VI and Frederick II rule (though with more or less success) over an immense empire. Even so, Barbarossa already has to accept the independence of the Lombard cities, gained as the result of hard struggles. — In France, the English king holds extensive regions as crown tenure (the “Angevin Empire”), which results in continual conflicts. Philip II Auguste (1180-1223) consolidates the powerful position of the French crown. Southern France is defeated in the disastrous Albingensian Wars (1209-29), Louis IX, the Saint (1226-70) brings about the end of the Angevin Empire (Peace of Paris 1259). He is the most powerful ruler in the West after the death of Emperor Frederick II (1250). — In the East, the Byzantine Empire has to defend itself against constant attacks by the Seljuks. In Spain our period sees the driving back of the Arabs in the “Reconquista” (capture of Toledo 1085, Cordoba 1236), and in Central Europe the German colonization of the East.

Our period is the age of the Crusades (seven Crusades between 1096 and 1270). In the first, Jerusalem is won in 1099. The second is a disastrous failure: Sultan Saladin captures Jerusalem in 1187. The third is led by Barbarossa to begin with (d. 1190); the fourth gives rise to the distasteful interlude of Latin imperial rule in Constantinople (1204-61). The fifth is led by Frederick II, the sixth and seventh by Louis the Saint. The entire undertaking of the Crusades fails because the personal, power-political interests of the European rulers cannot be reconciled with the universal idea they are fighting for.


The altogether outstanding artistic expression of our period is to be found in its architecture — this of course meaning in religious architecture. — At the beginning of the period work was begun on the mighty tunnel-vaulted basilicas of Toulouse (Saint-Sernin) and Santiago de Compostela, in Germany the Collegiate Church of Quedlinburg, in Italy S. Nicola in Bari. in England the Norman cathedral of Ely, in Byzantine region the monastery church of Daphni near Athens. In Burgundy work begins on the tremendous third abbey church of Cluny, as a symbol of the church's claim to worldly power; in Germany the cathedral of Speyer is remodelled as a symbol of the emperor's claim to spiritual power. Then follows the commencement of the building of the Anglo-Norman cathedral of Durham and the monastery churches of Maria Laach and Alpirsbach. Early decorative sculpture assumes monumental proportions: the reliefs on the choir stalls of Saint-Sernin in Toulouse.

Early 12th century: in Burgundy the St. Lazare Cathedral in Autun, Sainte-Madeleine in Vézelay and the monastery church of Paray-le-Monial are built; in Southern France the great dome-vaulted basilicas of Cahors, Angoulême and Périgueux; in Western France the abbey church of Fontevrault. Great Burgundian sculpture in Autun and Vézelay; in Southern France tympanum and portal figures of Moissac, portal figures of Souillac. S. Michele in Pavia and S. Zeno in Verona are begun in Northern Italy. In the windows of Augsburg Cathedral we have the earliest monumental stained glass art that has been preserved. — Later in the 12th century a splendid series of buildings arises in Sicily, in which Byzantine, Romanesque-Norman and Arab-Saracen art intermingle: Cefalu Cathedral (from 1131), Cappella Palatina in Palermo (11)2-40), “La Martorana” in Palermo (1143). From 1174 there follows the cathedral ot Monreale. — In France. the cathedral of Sens is begun in 1142. representing a unique link between the romanesque and gothic styles.

From 1140 onward our period experiences the whole breath-taking history — so typically European — of the development of early and high gothic ardntecture in Northern France. The brilliantly conceived choir of the abbey church of Saint-Dents near Paris, which represents the beginning of the gothic style, is built between 1140 and 1143. From around 1160 the cathedrals of Laon and Paris, around 1170-80 the choir of Saint-Remi in Reims and the south transept of the cathedral of Soissons. Outstanding decorative sculpture: the King's Portal at Chartres. — The three cathedrals of Chartres (from 1196), Reims (from 1211) and Amiens (from 1220) represent, historically speaking, an amazing new beginning, following upon one another with incredible rapidity and brilliantly intensifying all stylistic possibilities, each new cathedral displaying a fascinating and original individuality, yet without departing from the same high artistic standard. They thus create the standard principles of high gothic building. Western decorative sculpture triumphs on their portals. The high gothic art of glass window design stands, in the early 11th century, on an equal footing with architecture and sculpture, also playing its part in forming the spatial limits of the cathedral interior; in Chartres and Bourges it represents the highest human achievement to date in the use of light as an artistic medium in buildings and pictures. — The other new artistic possibilities of late high gothic style are manifested in concentrated form in the gem of Sainte-Chapelle in Paris (1243-48) — monumental and at the same time finely ornamental, and formed like a glass cabinet with light the colour of precious stones.

On the Rhine, the romanesque buildings of the Hohenstaufen period grow in rich sequence up till about 1230-40, culminating in the west choirs of the cathedrals of Mainz and Worms. Great sculptural achievements in the early and middle 13th century on and in the German cathedrals of Strasbourg, Bamberg and Naumburg. Frederick II's Castel del Monte is built in Apulia around 1230. — Work begins on Cologne Cathedral and the Moorish Alhambra of Granada in 1248. In 1259 and 1268 Nicolò Pisano creates the pulpits in the baptistry of Pisa and the cathedral of Siena. The seventies of the 13th century see the commencement of work on the west front of Strasbourg Minster and the spire of Freiburg Minster.


Our period ushers in the foundation of new monastic orders, which add new forms of monastic life to that of the Benedictine Order, the only one existing in the West hitherto. The Grande Chartreuse is founded near Grenoble in 1084 (Carthusian Order confirmed 1176), the Cistercian Order in 1098, the Premonstratensian in 1120, the Carmelite in 1156. the Dominion in 1216. Francis of Assisi lays down the rules of his order 1221; in 1223 the Franciscan Order is confirmed by the pope, a movement with an entirely new monastic life. Francis dies in 1226; he is already canonized in 1228. — The great preacher and mystic of the age is Bernard of Clairvaux (d. 1153). — New sects disturb the life of the church since the 12th century (Albingensians, Waldensians). The Inquisition is formed, and becomes an official institution in 1231.

Our period is the golden age of scholastic philosophy. Anse1m of Canterbury (d. 1109) teaches that true thinking cannot contradict the Faith. He attempts to substantiate all the truths of the Faith from natural reason too, and furnishes ontological proof of God. Petrus Abaelard (d. 1142) founds the scholastic method (“Sic et non”, methodical doubt). Petrus Lombardus (d. 1160) compiles the most widely used text-book: “Sententiarum libri IV”. In Arab Spain. Averrhoes (Cordoba, d. 1198) gives western philosophy a powerful impetus by his challenging criticism. Translations form the Arabic and the Greek make available the complete Aristotle and a knowledge of Arabic philosophical writings and commentaries on Aristotle (Toledo a centre of translation). The high scholastic philosophy of the 13th century is based on Aristotle; Alexander of Hales (d. 1245), Albertus Magnus (d. 1280). It readies its consummation in the life's work of Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274; Aristotle commentaries, Questiones disputatae, “Summa contra gentiles”, “Summa theologica”).

Our period is also the age of courtly chivalry, which flourishes most of all in the decades before and after 1200, developing a common form of life for the nobility throughout Europe. The tournament as a knightly game of combat has spread everywhere around 1100. — A splendid centre of cultural life in the first half of the 13th century is the court of the emperor Frederick II in Palermo, where western, Byzantine and Arab cultures amalgamate. — Academies of law and medicine are founded in Italy and France during our period. In the early 13th century the first university divided into faculties develops in Paris. In the middle of the 13th century Western Europe becomes acquainted with Ptolemaic astronomy (congress of Arab, Jewish and Christian astronomers, Toledo 1240). At the end of the period Roger Bacon (d. 1294) becomes the pioneer of a science that regards experience, experiment and mathematics as the basis of its research.


Our period is the age of the great courtly poetry of the high middle ages. Saga material, pre-formed by a long process of handing down, gains its final literary form as large-scale verse epics in the hands of outstanding poets. Chanson de Roland around 1100. The great inaugurator is Chrétien de Troyes in the France of the second hall of the 12th century: “Erec”, “Lancelot”, “Yvaine”, “Conte del Graal”. He provides the stimulus for the rich epic literature of Middle High German, serving as a model for it in many cases: Hartmann von Aur (“Era”, “Iwein”, “Der arme Heinrich”, late 12th century and around 1200), Wolfram von Eschenbach (“Parzival, “Willehalm”, early 13th century), Gottfried von Strassburg (“Tristan”, around 1210), Wernher der Gärtner (“Meier Helmbrecht”, second half of the 13th century). The “Nibelungenlied” is formed early in the 13th century out of material already worked on, immediately after it comes the “Kudrunlied”. In Spain the heroic epic of the “Cid” continues to appear in new venions in the course of our period (“Poema del Cid around 1150, “Cronica rimada del Cid” around 1200, Romancero del Cid). Around 1220 Snorre Sturlason in Iceland compiles the Later Edda as a textbook of the Nordic art-poetry of the skalds. — Courtly lyric poetry also grows on French soil; the troubadours spread it all over France, Italy, Germany and Britain. In the second half of the 12th century Bernart de Ventadorn and Bertram de Born are the outstanding figures. The poetry of the troubadours stimulates the Germans. who take it largely as a model but nevertheless — as in the epic — follow new paths of their own. The decades before and after 1200 become the greatest period of Middle High German lyric poetry (which is centred around the minnesang): Heinrich von Veldeke (ca. 1170-90), Reinmar von Hagenau and Heinrich von Morungen (around 1200). Wolfram von Eschenbach and Walther von der Vogelweide (early 13th century). Neidhardt von Reuenthal (first half of the 13th century).

Petrus Abaelard (d. 1142) writes the story of his love for Héloïse: “Historia calamitaturn mearum” (1133-36), this being supplemented by his correspondence with his beloved. — The 13th century owes its famous Latin hymns and sequences to Thomas of Celano (first half of the century: “Dies irae, dies illa”). Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274; “Pange lingua”, “Lauda sion”), Adam of St. Victor (second half of the century) and Jacopone da Todi (later part of the century; “Stabat mater dolorosa”). — But the Latin language is also put to powerful use on an entirely different plane: in the poetry of the goliards or wandering scholars, whose outstanding writer would appear to be the “Archipoeta” of the 12th century.