The Book of Musical Knowledge: The History, Technique, and Appreciation of Music, Together with Lives of the Great Composers, for Music-Lovers, Students and Teachers

By Arthur Elson | Go to book overview

IV
THE MINSTREL KNIGHTS

THE Minnesingers (love-poets) of Germany are said to have begun their career under Frederick Barbarossa, in the last half of the twelfth century. But the first of their number, Henry of Veldig, is the author of a poem lamenting the decadence of the Minnesinger's art; so we are forced to consider its real origin as of an earlier date.

The Minnesingers were minstrel knights, such as Wagner pictured in his opera "Tannhäuser." There is said to have been an actual tournament of song on the Wartburg, as in Wagner's opera; and the names that he used were real. The Suabian Court was the centre of the Minnesinger's art, and the Suabian language was used, though the minstrel poets came from all parts of the empire. So highly was their position rated that nobles and princes were proud to be known as Minnesingers.

As may be judged from the name, many of the poems of these knightly minstrels were love-songs. Some of them were ideal in their purity of sentiment, while others were less lofty in style. Examples of the former class are found in the works of Henry of Meissen, considered the last of the Minnesingers. He became so noted for his homage to the nobler qualities of womanhood that he was given the name of "Frauenlob," or "Praise-of-Women"; and when his funeral took place, numbers of high-born ladies followed to his open grave, and each cast a flower into it until it was overflowing with blossoms.

In their more personal love-songs, the Germans did not usually go to the same lengths as the more ardent Troubadours of France. Yet there must have been some degree of amorous adventure, and the latter is reflected in the so-called Wachtlieder (watch-songs). In these a knight may plead with a watchman for secret admittance to a castle; or the watchman may warn the knight of impending danger or discovery.

Such songs were all set to music, and sung by the knights, who would accompany themselves on a small harp.

-31-

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The Book of Musical Knowledge: The History, Technique, and Appreciation of Music, Together with Lives of the Great Composers, for Music-Lovers, Students and Teachers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations xi
  • Part I - The Evolution of Music 1
  • Part I the Evolution of Music 2
  • I - Primitive and Savage Music 3
  • II - Greece and Rome 13
  • III - Early Christian Music 23
  • IV - The Minstrel Knights 31
  • V - The Schools of Counterpoint 42
  • VI - The Harmonic Style 58
  • Part II - The Great Composers 67
  • Part II the Great Composers 68
  • VII - Bach 69
  • VIII - Handel 77
  • IX - Gluck 85
  • X - Haydn 91
  • XI - Mozart 98
  • XII - Beethoven 108
  • XIII - Schubert 120
  • XIV - Weber and Romanticism 128
  • XV - Mendelssohn 135
  • XVI - Schumman 143
  • XVII - Chopin 151
  • XVIII - Italian Opera 158
  • XIX - Cherubini and French Opera 170
  • XX - Berlioz and Other Frenchmen 179
  • XXI - Liszt and His Circle 188
  • Part III - Musical Form 307
  • XXXI - Melody and Appreciation 309
  • XXXII - Figures and Phrases 317
  • XXXIII - The Song-Forms 324
  • XXXIV - The Rondos 331
  • XXXV - The Sonata-Allegro Form 336
  • XXXVI - Other Sonata Movements 341
  • XXXVII - The Orchestral Forms 345
  • XXXVIII Dances and Piano Styles - Dances and Piano Styles 351
  • XXXIX - The Vocal Forms 360
  • XL - The Contrapuntal Forms 366
  • Part IV - The Instruments 376
  • XLI - The Piano and Its Predecessors 377
  • XLII - The Organ 384
  • XLIII - The Voice 391
  • XLIV - The Violin 398
  • XLV - Other Bowed Instruments *
  • XLVI - Plucked-String Instruments 413
  • XLVII - Flute and Piccolo 420
  • XLVIII - Oboe and English Horn *
  • XLIX - The Bassoons 433
  • L the Clarinets 438
  • Li Horns, Trumpets, and Cornets 444
  • Lii Trombones and Tubas 450
  • Liii Instruments of Percussion 456
  • Part V - Special Topics 463
  • LIV - Some Famous Pianists 465
  • LV - Some Famous Singers 474
  • LVI - Violinists and Violin Music 483
  • LVII - Orchestration 491
  • LVIII - Conducting 496
  • Lix Acoustics 503
  • LX - How to Read Music 515
  • LXI - Modern Music 538
  • Appendix 569
  • Index 581
  • Index to Supplementary Chapter 606
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