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(b Troyes; fl c1160–90). French trouvère, writer and poet. He was the author of the Arthurian romances and the earliest lyric poet in Old French. Although best known as the author of Perceval and Lancelot, he is also the earliest of the trouvère poet-composers whose name has come down to us. Some scholars have speculated that he was a converted Jew, owing to his unusual name and taking into account the presence of a large Jewish community in Troyes in the 12th century. He received a clerical education in Troyes, and later spent at least some time at the court of Henry I, Count of Champagne, where his presence is documented in the year 1172. Henry’s wife was Marie de Champagne, daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine by her marriage to Louis VII of France; it was probably in Marie’s ‘court of love’ that Chrétien was active, and the themes of some of his romances were inspired by her. Because of the prominence of the ‘matière de Bretagne’ in Chrétien’s works, and the family connections of the court in Champagne with England, it has been suggested that Chrétien visited England, but this cannot be documented....

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Don Harrán

(ben Zemah)

(b Mallorca, 1361; d Algiers, 1444). Rabbi, kabbalist and philosopher. Music is discussed in three different passages in his Magen avot (‘The protection of the Fathers’) which survives in seven manuscript sources, not all of them complete. Three themes are emphasized: music in relation to speech; te’amim as distinct from piyyutim; and the spiritual importance of te’amim (see Jewish music, §I, 3(i)). Under the first the author described music as inherent to speech, indeed, ‘musical speech’ (ha-nigun asher ba-dibur) consists of three elements: consonants, vowels and musical formulae for intoning the sacred texts; the power of music was recognized in ancient Israel, where, after the example of King David, the Levites employed song for reciting the sacred texts in the temple liturgy. Under te’amim, the author differentiated between three kinds of melody, according to whether they were used for chanting the Pentateuch, the Prophets or the Hagiographa; he described their various syntactic, hermeneutic, melodic and rhythmic qualities. The ...

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C. Matthew Balensuela

[Levi ben Gershom(GershonGerson)Leo HebraeusMagister Leon de BagnolsRaLBaG]

(b Bagnols, 1288; d Provence, 1344). French mathematician. He lived in Provence, primarily in Orange, north of Avignon, an area that offered protection to Jews and a haven from King Philip the Fair’s expulsion of Jews in 1306. His works were known in both Jewish and Christian circles. He wrote in Hebrew, and his writings were translated into Latin; as a result he is known by several different names. He is referred to as Levi ben Gershom or RaLBaG (an acronym of Rabbi Levi ben Gershom) in Hebrew texts, and as Gersonides, Gerson, and several other variants in Latin sources. His mathematical works include a commentary on Euclid and a treatise on trigonometry. He was also an astronomer, biblical exegete, and neo-Aristotelian philosopher. In addition to commentaries on Aristotle and Ibn Rushd, his major work was Sefer milhamot Adonai (‘The Wars of the Lord’, 1317–29), which treats the central philosophical debates of his time, such as the immortality of the soul and the creation of the world....

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Don Harrán

[Solomon Vivas ]

(fl southern France, 1424). French philosopher and commentator . He referred to music in three short passages in his Ḥesheq Shelomoh (‘Solomon's Desire’, 1424; GB-Ob Opp.Add.Qu.114), a commentary on Judah Halevi's Kuzari (12th century). Music attained great heights in ancient Israel, where it was practised by an élite (the Levites) and recognized as a therapeutic aid (David playing before melancholy Saul). Solomon relays various commentaries on a statement by Halevi about the measurement and relationship of text and music; the statement has particularly telling musical terminology: ‘...