Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hildegard von Bingen - Naxos podcast review

Naxos Classical Music Spotlight Podcast is a promotional podcast from Naxos to pay attention to the Classical music albums they release. The podcasts bring great music with explanations on the side which touch upon music and the biographies of the musicians and composers. As a consequence, this can turn into a veritable history podcast, such as the issue about Hildegard von Bingen.

Hildegard von Bingen (1098 - 1179) was what in the Middle Ages would go for 'well versed in the arts' and this meant not only that she composed music, as can be heard on the podcast and the promoted album, but also that she wrote extensively on whatever subject. She was engaged in medicine, science and literature, to name but a few. She turned into an influential spiritual woman in her time in Central Europe. The podcast tries to emphasize how exceptional this was for a woman, but by all means this was exceptional for any person of the time.

Neurologists (among others Oliver Sacks) suppose her 'visions' were actually bouts of migraine and in addition to the religious pertinence, she turned them into creativity. She wrote poetry, invented language and on. Eventually the podcast is not a history podcast and refrains from too much embedding in the history. In stead, the marvels of her life are narrated and must stand on their own. Nevertheless, as a snapshot of the Middle Ages, it serves quite well.

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