The Musical Legacy of St. Hildehard von Bingen: Background information when reading Illuminations

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Illuminations

A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen

by Mary Sharratt

Illuminations by Mary Sharratt
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2012, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2013, 288 pages

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Beyond the Book:
The Musical Legacy of St. Hildehard von Bingen

Print Review

St. Hildehard von Bingen was an incredibly gifted writer and music composer. Her music is known for its soaring registers and flourishes. As a child, she was exposed to music at the monastery when she heard others take part in the Divine Office. She listened and learned from the interplay between words and sound. The monastery provided a forum for music composition with copyists who could pen the music and a skilled group who could sing it.

The saint believed music was the highest form of human activity and collected them as a complement to traditional Gregorian chants.

A Paris-based ensemble group, Sequentia, has revived the popularity of St. Hildegard von Bingen's music. Sequentia's work on the music has been recorded on seven releases one of which, Canticles of Ecstasy, sold more than half a million copies worldwide and won many international awards including a Grammy for best choral recording.

You can listen to a playlist of this incredibly moving and transporting music here. For one of the many on the list, click the video below:



This article was originally published in October 2012, and has been updated for the October 2013 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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