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Classical Sprouts: BONUS! Hildegard von Bingen

Hildegard von Bingen

Why is this nun who lived more than 900 years ago so cool?

Well, Hildegard von Bingen is one of the first “composers” that we know about because she wrote her music down. Lots of other people were writing music (including other women!), but because she was a nun, she knew how to read and write and had access to tools to help her write her music down.

One of her most famous pieces is called "Ordo Virtutum" - it's one of the earliest ever recorded pieces of musical drama.

It had a story, music, characters, costumes and existed long before any opera or musical theatre that we know of today.

It was written for almost all female voices and was performed by the other nuns in Hildegard’s monastery.

The only male voice was for the role of The Devil, who was played by the priest, who happened to be the only man around.

The role of the Devil doesn’t even sing!

He only yells or grunts, because according to Hildegard, the Devil isn’t capable of “harmony.”

𝕳𝔦𝔩𝔡𝔢𝔤𝔞𝔯𝔡 𝔳𝔬𝔫 𝕭𝔦𝔫𝔤𝔢𝔫 - The Complete Works of Hildegard von Bingen, Sequentia

But not only was she great at music - she was also super knowledgeable about plants, studied medicine and astronomy and made beautiful paintings showing the idea that the sun was the center of the solar system, not the earth!

This wasn’t proven for another 400 years, so she was really ahead of her time, in more ways than one!

Hildegard also wrote whole books on religion and the visions she received, as well as books on medicine, natural healing, botany (or plants) and even beer brewing!

She also wrote a big collection of music and poetry called "Symphonia Armonie Celestium Revelationum" that included 77 poems and musical settings to go along with them!

Listen to the episode to hear her music!

Read more about Hildegard Von Bingen.

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Classical Sprouts is produced by Emily Duncan Wilson. Kacie Brown is the digital content manager.

Kate Botello is a host and producer at Classical IPR.
Emily Duncan Wilson is IPR's digital content manager and is the producer of "Classical Sprouts" and "Kids Commute".