Hildegard - musical works

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Two extant Hildegard sources include music notation, in early German neumes, the Dendermonde manuscript, codex 9, of c.1170, and the Riesencodex, which probably dates from shortly before or after her death [Wiesbaden, Hessische Landesbibliothek M32].


1. The liturgical pieces
(Symphonia armoniae celestium revelationum)

There are 58 items in the liturgical cycle in the Dendermonde source, and 77 in the Riesencodex. 56 of these are common to both.

For the Mass there are 9 pieces: 7 sequences, and Alleluia and a Kyrie.

For the office there are 68 pieces: 43 antiphons, 18 responsories, 3 hymns and 4 other devotional works.

The structure of the Symphonia is unusual in that Hildegard seems to have ordered the pieces in hierarchical importance according to her theological view: in particular it illustrates the esteem in which she holds the Virgin Mary. She also gives emphasis to local saints, Rupert, Disibod and Ursula.

  Songs addressed to -
1. Father and Son (3)
2. Blessed Virgin Mary (12)
3. Holy Spirit (5)
  4. Celestial Hierarchy (18) addressed to -
Angels [2]
Patriarchs and prophets [2]
Apostles [2]
St John Evangelist [2]
St Disibod [3]
Martyrs [2]
Confessors [2]
St Rupert [3]
5. Virgins, widows and innocents (5)
6. St Ursula and the eleven thousand virgins (13)
7. Ecclesia (2)

2. Play of the Virtues (Ordo virtutum)

This dates from c.1150. The text is similar to that of the final vision of Scivias (III, 13). It is found only in the Riesencodex, although part of the Dendermonde codex is missing and this may well have included the Ordo Virtutum. There are 82 sections for 20 "characters", and those for the Devil are spoken. The musical style is simpler and less melismatic than most of the Symphonia.