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Profile of Hildegard von Bingen

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Born:

1098, she was the tenth child of a noble German family.

Birthplace:

Böckelheim, West Franconia (Germany)

Died:

September 17, 1179 in Rupertsberg, near Bingen

Also Known As:

One of the earliest known female composers; Roman Catholic abbess, also called Hildegard of Bingen, "Sybil of the Rhine" and St. Hildegard.

Although she hasn't been formally canonized, she is often referred to as St. Hildegard. In Germany, her feast day is celebrated on September 17.

Type of Compositions:

She is particularly known for the plainsong setting of her poetry; she also left behind works of theology and visionary writings.

Influence:

Being the tenth child, Hildegard's parents dedicated her to the religious service. When she was 8 years old, she was sent to the Benedictine monastery of Disibodenberg to receive religious education. There she met Jutta, an anchoress born to a wealthy family who decided to dedicate her life to God. In 1136, Hildegard succeeded Jutta as prioress. She later left Disibodenberg and established a nunnery at Rupertsberg.

Selected Works:

In total, she wrote 77 chants and what is considered the earliest known musical drama titled "The Ritual of the Virtues." Her poetry and musical compositions are divided into two large works; the Ordo Virtutum (The Play of the Virtues) and Symphonia armonie celestium revelationum (Symphony of the Harmony of Celestial Revelations).

Interesting Facts:

Hildegard was also known as a visionary and prophetess. She started receiving visions when she was a child but it was only in her 40s when she decided to keep track of it in writing. Her 26 recorded visions is known as Scivias. She wrote, "And it came to pass ... when I was 42 years and 7 months old, that the heavens were opened and a blinding light of exceptional brilliance flowed through my entire brain. And so it kindled my whole heart and breast like a flame, not burning but warming... and suddenly I understood of the meaning of expositions of the books..."

Music Sample:

Listen to a selection from the 1984 album A Feather on the Breath of God courtesy of YouTube.

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