The Medieval Lyric
To read Peter Dronke's book is to want immediately to read again the lyrics about which he writes so perceptively. His understanding of human nature combines with an extraordinary bird's-eye view of Western European culture in the middle ages (and familiarity with the languages) to present the poetry of the time in beguiling context. He shows the men and women who sang and played in medieval Europe as the heirs of both a Roman and a Germanic lyric tradition, united but differentiated from country to country; he introduces the scholars and musicians from the Byzantine world and the Paris schools, the German courts and Italian city-states, and he brilliantly presents their work, both sacred and profane. The melodies are given for twelve of the lyrics discussed, a small but satisfying repertoire and an important reminder that music was for a medieval audience an essential complement to the lyric.
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