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Hearing the Heavenly Symphony: An Overview of Hildegard’s Musical Oeuvre with Case Studies

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Chapter Summary

This chapter introduces the musical dimensions of Hildegard's visionary experiences and the works that emerged from them. Hildegard herself claimed that music, the heavenly symphonia, was an integral part of "what she saw and heard". From the song texts in the final vision of Scivias to the collected works notated in the Riesenkodex, Hildegard's songs cannot be separated from her oeuvre as a whole or from the Benedictine and other ecclesiastical circles in which she moved. The chapter presents an overview of scholarship concerning Hildegard's collection of liturgical songs, the Symphonia armonie celestium revelationum, and her music drama Ordo uirtutum, including a summary of the manuscripts. It discusses the chronology of the works themselves and describes their possible layers of development. The chapter offers analytical case studies of what seem to be Hildegard's earliest musical compositions: the Scivias songs, represented by the song (Nam) O vos angeli, and the Ordo.

Keywords: (Nam) O vos angeli; Benedictine; Hildegard; liturgical song; musical oeuvre; Ordo uirtutum; Riesenkodex; Scivias; Symphonia



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