(b Baghdad, July 779; d Samarra’, July 839). Arab musician. He was a son of the Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdī and a Persian slave at court called Shikla. He became famous for his fine and powerful voice with its range of four octaves, and first took part in court concerts during the reigns of Hārūn al-Rashīd (786–809) and al-Amīn (809–13). Proclaimed caliph in 817 in opposition to al-Ma’mūn (813–33), he had to abdicate after barely two years and went into hiding. In 825 he was pardoned and became a court musician once more under al-Ma’mūn and his successor al-Mu‘taṣim (833–42). He was a follower of the school of Ibn Jāmi‘ and represented a ‘soft’ style, probably influenced by Persian music, which also allowed freedom in rendering older works. His rival Isḥāq al-Mawṣilī accused him of stylistic uncertainty; fragments of their polemic writings are quoted in the Kitāb al-aghānī al-kabīr...
revised by Randall Rosenfeld
(b ?Saxony, c1096; d 1141). Augustinian canon and theologian. After study in Saxony, he went to the abbey of St Victor in Marseilles, and later to the culturally eminent abbey of St Victor in Paris, where he became scholasticus. His diverse writings exerted an enormous influence on the liturgical arts of his time, perhaps affecting the formation of the style that later became known as Gothic. During the 1130s Adam of St Victor was one of his confrères, and it seems likely that Hugh's mystical theology played an important role in the development of the Victorine sequence. Among his numerous works is his early compendium, the Didascalicon, which contains a chapter on music. This is entirely concerned with the three standard divisions of music, mundana, humana and instrumentalis, and with the three kinds of musician, those who compose songs, those who play instruments and those who judge. The thought, and much of the language, is borrowed from Boethius....