Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing

Hildegard von Bingen: Medieval Composer, Extraordinary Woman


Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) was a remarkable woman.  She was a composer, a mystic, a writer, and a significant figure of her time.  She was the leader of her community of nuns, and made an unprecedented move to relocate them to retain independence and her authority over the order.  She regularly corresponded with powerful church figures, virtually unheard of for a woman of that time.  She also wrote about the natural world and the practice of medicine.  The music page of says it best when it states that her music is distinguished by its soaring notes, and a much broader range than was typical for plainchant.  Hers is the music of a mystic.

Hildegard von Bingen

Hildegard von Bingen

In case you were wondering about the image, that is a medieval depiction of inspiration, not tentacles.  Cthulhu was in no way involved in this.  And now, moving on…

The above illustration is from the Liber Scivias, one of Hildegard’s books containing her visions.  You can see all the pages of this beautifully illuminated manuscript at the University of Heidelberg’s digital library website.


Inside the front cover of the book, which is not devoted to music, is this wonderful example of early written music:


There are numerous recordings of Hildegard’s compositions, some traditional, some with unconventional backing tracks, such as the CD VisionVision is also the name of a powerful movie on the life of Hildegard von Bingen written and directed by Margarethe von Trotta.  For more about Hildegard’s music, visit the music page of

Here is a traditional rendition

and an unconventional one

Here is the official trailer for the film Vision

4 thoughts on “Hildegard von Bingen: Medieval Composer, Extraordinary Woman

  1. Yes- remarkable figure in many ways. Her music is really unlike “regular” chant- quite wild and melismatic and rangy; very dramatic and intense. Love to see the von Trotta movie- ever seen it?




  2. Like the first version without any thinking. The second one I have to think about, which changes its effect. A movie bio?!


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