Loading Events

« All Events

Seminar in Medieval and Renaissance Music | Margot Fassler (University of Notre Dame/Yale)

October 28 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm


Speakers: Margot Fassler (Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Music and Liturgy,  University of Notre Dame; Tangeman Professor of Music History Emerita, Yale University) with discussants Alison Altstatt (University of Northern Iowa), Barbara Newman (Northwestern University)

The Restoration of Anima in Hildegard of Bingen’s Sung Play the Ordo Virtutum

This presentation is based on chapters from Margot Fassler’s forthcoming book Cosmos, Liturgy, and the Arts in the Twelfth Century: Hildegard’s Illuminated Scivias (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2022).  The musical dimensions of the book have been crafted to make what can be a highly technical subject accessible for non-specialists. Hildegard is an excellent composer for this goal: she worked in many disciplines, including the visual arts, and took this aspect of her thinking over into her musical/poetic creations.  This short discussion will focus on one example of music and the graphic, that is the character Anima as she comes to life in Hildegard’s sung play the Ordo Virtutum. The presentation explains the widely recognized polarity in Hildegard’s play between two tonal areas, one E and the other in D. Here the focus is primarily on Anima’s musical development in scales with finals of the pitch D. Within this area, Anima moves from joy, to the fallen condition, to restoration. In the play, a range of characters inspire her return to health, and, as they do so, they “tutor” her  in the ability to recover particular pitches and ranges of pitches. The sense of expectation is greatly heightened through the use of music in this dramatic work as Hildegard demonstrates skill in character development through singing within community. This work was apparently designed to be sung by the Benedictine nuns on the Rupertsberg, where Hildegard was the magistra, the leader of the community. The play was a teaching tool for performative theology and also may have been designed to ready the women and other members of the probable congregation to receive communion.

About the series

The seminars in 2021-22 will continue on Zoom. The seminars are all at 5 p.m. UK time (this will be BST for the first seminar and GMT for seminars 2 and 3). We have seized the opportunity to bring together people in a way not geographically feasible in normal times. A larger online attendance will make our usual free-for-all discussion impossible; the format consequently differs from the live seminars. Individual presentations will be about half an hour, followed by invited discussants who will engage the speaker in conversation about the paper, before the floor is opened for comments and questions by others. This mailing comes to you from our colleague Dr Matthew Thomson, who expertly hosts the Zoom meetings, as set out below. We hope you will join us.

Margaret Bent 
All Souls College, Oxford

Registering for seminars

If you are planning to attend a seminar this term, please register using this form. For each seminar, those who have registered will receive an email with the Zoom invitation, instructions for joining the call, and further materials for the seminar. We are keen to make the seminars available to a global audience, so please feel free to share the registration link with anyone you think might be interested. If you could try to register at least a week in advance for seminars, that would be very helpful.

In each seminar, you’ll be able to join the call up to half an hour before the seminar for a virtual ‘meet and greet’. The seminar will last for two hours, but those who wish to are welcome to stay on the call for a little while after that for virtual drinks and further discussion.

If you have questions, please just send me an email (matthew.thomson@ucd.ie).

Matthew Thomson  
University College Dublin  


October 28
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Event Categories:


All Souls College
+44 (0)1865 279379