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Robert N. Freeman

Town in Lower Austria. The strategic location of the fortress Medelica (Melk) on a slope overlooking the Danube led the Babenbergs, Austria's medieval rulers, to establish their court there in 976. Monks from the Benedictine abbey of Lambach were invited to join the court in 1089; shortly after 1110, when the Babenbergs moved to Klosterneuburg, the Benedictines became the owners of Melk and a large area of land. This link with the Austrian monarchal line made the wealthy abbey one of the Empire's most powerful institutions.

Soon after their arrival the Benedictines founded a boys' choir; pueri are mentioned as early as 1140 and a cloister school, training boys for singing in processions and daily church services, is described in a manuscript dating from 1160. The scriptorium was most productive in the first half of the 13th century. A great fire (1297) destroyed most of the manuscripts recording this formative musical period. 133 codices survived intact, about half of which originated at Melk, including the ...


José López-Calo

Cathedral city in north-west Spain. Santiago Cathedral was one of the most important shrines for pilgrimage during the Middle Ages. Built over the grave of St James, patron saint of Spain, the present structure was begun in 1078 and represents classic Spanish romanesque architecture. The pilgrimages left their mark on the music of the cathedral and, according to the 12th-century Calixtinus manuscript ( E-SC ; see Sources, MS, §IV),

it is a source of wonder and gladness to see the choirs of pilgrims in perpetual vigil by the venerable altar of Santiago: Teutons in one place, Franks in another, Italians in another. … Some play the cittern, others lyres, kettledrums, flutes, flageolets, trumpets, harps, violins, British or Welsh crwths, some singing with citterns, others accompanied of divers instruments.

It is the only surviving document of medieval music there; further documentation of musical life appears only in the 16th century.

The first ...