Merriment and Misery in Medieval Music
1975, UCSC Performing Arts Concert Hall
Combining the authentic medieval music with written accounts and slides of medieval artworks, this performance evoked the flavor of life in medieval Europe. Selections included a wide range of both subject and geography, including many religious devotionals as well as romantic songs. These included:
On the misery side of the concert, the Funks performed:
- Motet: Pucelete/ Je Languis/ Domino, School of Notre Dame, c. 1250
- A piece in which each of the three voices has a different text, the lowest deriving from a religious chant melody. The first line sings the praises of a "fair maid and a pleasing pretty one"; the second line voices a mock complaint, "I languish from the malady of love."
- Cantigas de Santa Virgen, late 13th century
Quen a Virgen ben Servir
Como Poden per Sas Culpas...
Over 400 religious (but non-liturgical) songs in praise of the miracles of the Virgin Mary were written in the court of Alfonso El Sabio of Castile and Leon, who reigned from 1252 to 1284. Many of these were thought to have been composed by the king himself. The instrumentation for the pieces was designed to reflect the Moorish influence.
- Chant e Deport, Gaucelm Faidit, 1180-1206
- One of the many featured romantic tunes, this by a wandering minstrel who had many prominent patrons and was well known, yet never stayed at one place for any length of time. Whether this was due to his vagabond soul or the desires of his patrons is not known.
- Sumer is Icumen In, Anonymous, c. 1310
- An English six-part double canon; one of the most outstanding compositions of the 14th century.
Other selections performed at this concert included mournful courtly love songs, a fourteenth century mass, and dance pieces.
- Hymn of the Flagellants, Anonymous, c. 1350
When the bubonic plague (Black Death) reached northern Germany in 1350, the Brotherhood of the flagellants wandered from town to town, praying for delivery from the dreaded disease (and also, no doubt, spreading it). They accompanied their rites with simple hymns such as this piece, written in the vernacular. "Mother Mary, spotless virgin, have pity on Christians souls still living in this vale of tears." Twenty-five million people perished in the Black Death, including over half the population of Britain.
- Dies Ira'e, Thomas of Celano, died c.1250
- This chant for the dead, with reference to the Apocolypse ("Day of Wrath"), was undoubtedly sung frequently during the plague years.
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