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Friedrich W. Riedel

Benedictine abbey near Krems, Lower Austria. It was founded in 1083 by Bishop Altmann of Passau as a monastery for prebendaries. In 1094 it was taken over by Benedictines from St Blasien in the Black Forest, and rapidly became an important centre of religious and intellectual life. After a period of decline during the Reformation, Göttweig flourished in the Baroque era, particularly under the abbot Gottfried Bessel (1714–49), who, after a fire in 1718, instigated the rebuilding of the monastery in Baroque style. Despite the misfortunes which befell the monastery during the Enlightenment and the Napoleonic Wars, and the disruption caused by World War II, Göttweig remained an important religious and cultural centre. It has a long musical tradition; choral singing was fostered from the abbey’s foundation, and its choir school dates from the Middle Ages. By the 15th century an organist had been appointed, and polyphony was sung in the 16th century. An inventory of ...

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Melk  

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 ...