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Bard  

Peter Crossley-Holland, John MacInnes, and James Porter

Among the Celts, a composer of praise poetry (and, on occasion, its counterpart of dispraise or satire). The word is almost certainly of Indo-European origin but has no obvious cognates outside the group of Celtic languages: from a common Celtic bardos are derived the Gaelic, Manx and Irish bard, Welsh bardd, Cornish barth and Breton barz. The basic meaning appears to be ‘praise singer’, even if the professional and social status of such figures varied from age to age and from culture to culture. In Scots Gaelic ‘bard’ became the generic term for poet. (The development of ‘bard’ in English to indicate a poet of lofty imagination, inspired by mysterious powers, is largely a product of Romanticism.)

For an extended use of the term to refer to epic singers of non-Celtic peoples see Aoidos; Epics; Mongol music; and Central Asia, §2.

Bard: Antiquity

Bard: Medieval and post–medieval Wales and Cornwall...

Article

Peter Crossley-Holland

Knowledge of the functions of the bards of ancient Gaul derives from passages in Greek and Roman authors. Some of their most valuable evidence depends on material, now lost, by Posidonius of Apamea (c135–51 BCE). Strabo’s version may be taken as representative: ‘The bards [bardoi] are singers and poets, the vates [ouateis] interpreters of sacrifice and natural philosophers, while the druids [druïdai] in addition to the science of nature study moral philosophy’ (Geography, iv.4.4). The distinction between these castes may derive from Posidonius, and the idea of a caste system agrees with later Celtic evidence (see below, §§2–3); there is no reason to doubt that the bards were poets whose function included the singing of panegyrics. Tierney has shown, however, that Posidonius’s ascription to these groups of philosophical studies cannot be taken at its face value. The ancient authorities – several of them apparently dependent on Posidonius – include, besides Strabo quoted above, Diodorus Siculus (v.31), who mentioned the bards’ use of ‘instruments similar to lyres’, Athenaeus (246c–d), Lucan (...

Article

In medieval Gaelic society in Ireland and Scotland, professional men of learning were organized in a caste system, under various descriptions: draoi (the Gaelic equivalent of ‘druid’), fili, later file (poet-seer), breitheamh (‘brehon’, or lawgiver) and seanchaidh (historian-antiquarian). These terms appear to denote various offices, or perhaps duties, of the highest orders in the professional hierarchy.

The bard occupied a lower position. Until the Norman Conquest, the filidh (plural of fili) specialized in a form of poetry called seanchas that drew on the high learning, historical and mythological, of the Gaels; and the filidh appear to have maintained some vestiges of pagan religion (the word fili derives from a root ‘to see’). But the bard, according to 10th-century Irish juristic tradition, had an honour price only half that of a fili; and, according to another medieval juristic tradition, a bard might claim nothing on the grounds of his status as a man of learning but should rest satisfied with whatever his native wit might win him....

Article

Throughout the British Isles local kings, princes and chieftains maintained bards, bestowing gifts upon them for their services. The bards played the harp and sang elegies and eulogies on famous men, composed proverbs and recited sagas. Monasteries also sometimes maintained bards as historians and genealogists, as at Aberconway and Strata Florida in Wales.

The high esteem in which the class was held is evident in the early legal codes of both Ireland and Wales. The Laws of Hywel Dda (Howel the Good), surviving in Welsh manuscripts from the 12th century but representing in essence a 10th-century codification of customs rather more ancient, distinguish two classes of bard: the bardd teulu, who was a permanent official of the king’s household, and the pencerdd (‘chief of song’), or head of the bardic fraternity in the district (this term still survives; for details of original sources, see Gwynn Jones, 1913–14). These classes of resident and itinerant bards, also found in Ireland and Scotland, are reminiscent of classes found generally among Indo-European ethnic groups, for example, in Anglo-Saxon England, although they cannot be precisely equated with the ...

Article

It is impossible to tell with certainty how much or how little of bardic music survives. By the 18th century, when antiquarians in Britain and Ireland became aware of the social function of ‘ancient’ music (i.e. ‘Celtic’ music), it was already too late to record in reliable form an authentic bardic style of singing, chanting or reciting poetry to the accompaniment of a harp. It is important, furthermore, to separate the concept of ‘bard’ from that of ‘instrumental musician’, for they were distinct in the Middle Ages. The bard would often have with him a harper and a person (datgeiniaid) to sing or declaim his songs, but no description of how the songs were performed survives. In Ireland, a parallel class, namely the recairi, sang or recited the praises of their leaders, again to the accompaniment provided by a harper. The main part of the verse may have been chanted in a monotone, with cadential melodic inflections as in psalmody, and supported by harp chords; such a method of performance is described in Mayo as late as the 18th century....

Article

Bruce Alan Brown and Paulette Letailleur

French family of dramatists, singers, and actors active in musical theatre.

Favart, Charles-Simon (b Paris, Nov 13, 1710; d Belleville [now in Paris], May 12, 1792)

Favart [née Duronceray], Marie-Justine-Benoîte [‘Mlle Chantilly’] (b Avignon, June 14, 1727; d Paris, April 21, 1772)

Favart, Charles Nicolas Joseph Justin (b Paris, March 17, 1749; d Belleville [now in Paris], Feb 2, 1806)

F. and C. Parfaict: Dictionnaire des théâtres de Paris (Paris, 1756/R, 2/1767, with G. d’Abguerbe)Meusnier: Manuscrit trouvé à la Bastille concernant deux lettres-de-cachet lâchées contre Mademoiselle de Chantilly et M. Favart, par le Maréchal de Saxe (Paris, 1789; another edn, Brussels, 1868)A.-P.-C. Favart, ed.: Mémoires et correspondance littéraires, dramatiques et anecdotiques de C.-S. Favart (Paris, 1808/R), esp. 1, pp.lxxiv–lxxx [incl. historical introduction by H.F. Dumolard]A. Le Blanc de Ferrière: Favart à Bruxelles (Paris, 1811)...

Article

Bruce Alan Brown

Member of Favart family

(b Paris, Nov 13, 1710; d Belleville [now in Paris], May 12, 1792). French librettist, playwright, composer, and impresario. He was one of the most highly regarded and prolific librettists of opéra comique during the mid-18th century, which saw both the Querelle des Bouffons and the gradual replacement in the genre of vaudevilles (popular songs) by newly composed, italianate ariettes.

According to his own fragmentary memoirs Favart inherited from his father, a pastrycook, a love of the theatre and of song; his mother encouraged his literary studies. He attended a collège until the death of his father in 1730 necessitated his return to the family business, in which he continued even after his first successes at the fairground theatres of the Opéra-Comique. Many of his early pieces (among them several parodies) were written with others, including his mentor Charles-François Panard, whose allegorical satire he imitated. These nevertheless brought him to the attention of noble patrons, including the Maréchal de Saxe....

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Lin-Manuel Miranda at the Pantages Theatre on August 16, 2017 in Hollywood, California.

(Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

Article

Elizabeth Craft

(b New York, Jan 16, 1980). American composer, lyricist, playwright, performer, and producer. Miranda was raised in northern Manhattan and attended the Hunter College public selective-admission elementary and high schools. His parents are from Puerto Rico; growing up, he spent time there each summer.

Miranda studied theatre at Wesleyan College (BA 2002), where he wrote an early version of his first hit musical In the Heights. After graduating, he teamed up with director Thomas Kail, a fellow Wesleyan alumnus, and the show received several readings and an off-Broadway production before its première on Broadway in 2008. Miranda wrote the music and lyrics, working with bookwriter Quiara Alegría Hudes, and he starred in the original cast. Running for over 1000 performances and garnering awards including four Tonys, notably for Best Musical and Best Original Score, the show established Miranda as a major presence on Broadway. Many of the show’s creative team and cast members became his regular collaborators....

Article

Mary Hunter, James L. Jackman, Marita Petzoldt McClymonds, David Charlton, Dennis Libby, and Julian Rushton

Italian, later French, family of composers.

Piccinni [Piccini], (Vito) Niccolò [Nicola] (Marcello Antonio Giacomo) (b Bari, Jan 16, 1728; d Passy, nr Paris, May 7, 1800)

Piccinni, Luigi [Lodovico] (b ?Rome or Naples, 1764; d Passy, nr Paris, July 31, 1827)

Piccinni, Louis Alexandre [Luigi Alessandro; Lodovico Alessandro] (b Paris, Sept 10, 1779; d Paris, April 24, 1850)

BurneyFI; FétisB; La BordeE; RosaMJ.A. Hiller: ‘Sechste Fortsetzung des Entwurfs einer musikalischen Bibliothek’, Wöchentliche Nachrichten und Anmerkungen, 3 (1768), 57–64J.F. Marmontel: Essai sur les révolutions de la musique en France (Paris, 1777)G.M. Leblond: Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire de la révolution opérée dans la musique par M. le Chevalier Gluck (Naples and Paris, 1781)P.L. Ginguené: ‘Dessein’, ‘France’, Encyclopédie méthodique: musique, ed. N.E. Framery and P.L. Ginguené, 1 (Paris, 1791)P.L. Ginguené: Notice sur la vie et les ouvrages de Nicolas Piccinni...

Article

Matthew Shaftel

(Albert)

(b Peru, IN, 9 June 1891; d Santa Monica, CA, 15 Oct 1964). Composer, songwriter, and lyricist.

One of the most celebrated Broadway and film composers of his era, Porter also penned his own lyrics, which were famous for their wit and sophistication.

The son of Kate Cole, an amateur pianist, and Sam Porter, an amateur guitarist, pianist, and singer, Cole Porter began his musical training at an early age. In addition to singing at the local Lutheran church, Cole studied the violin and the piano, attending the Marion Conservatory in Indiana at age six. He wrote his first song in 1901, “The Song of the Birds,” and his first publication was a short piano work, The Bobolink Waltz (1902). As a youth, he played violin in the conservatory orchestra, provided piano accompaniment for silent movies, and even starred in a school production of Snow White...