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 Hildegard.org 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.
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 Vision. Vision 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 hildegard.org.