Docu on the history of Germany, in English, 56 mins.

Ougenweide is a progressive rock band from Ger…

Ougenweide is a progressive rock band from Germany, notable for being pioneers of the medieval folk rock genre. The name comes from Middle High German Augenweide = feast for the eyes. It was founded in 1970 in Hamburg as a folk rock band. From the beginning, the band wanted to set music to old poems and songs, but they never completely restricted themselves to the Medieval. Their second album from 1974 used texts from the Merseburg Incantations. This sound recording of the Merseburger Zaubersprüche was covered later by many bands, including Die Irrlichter, and by the medieval metal group In Extremo. They also used text-fragments by Walther von der Vogelweide, Heinrich von Mügeln, and Johann Wolfgang Goethe. Albums:

Ougenweide, 1973 — All die weil ich mag, 1974 — Ohrenschmaus, 1976 — Eulenspiegel, 1976 — Frÿheit, 1978 — Ousflug, 1979 — Ja-Markt, 1980 — Noch aber ist April, 1981 — Sol, 1996 — Herzsprung, 2010 — Ungezwungen, 1977/2007 — Wol mich der Stunde, 2004 — Ouwe war, 2005 — Liederbuch Ougenweide, 1979/1988 — Lieder aus 9 Jahrhunderten, 1983 — Ougenweide/All die weil ich mag, 2006 — Ohrenschmaus/Eulenspiegel, 2006 — Walther von der Vogelweide – Saget mir ieman: waz ist Minne?, 2007 — Frÿheit/Ousflug, 2007 — Ja-Markt/Noch aber ist April, 2007

Minnesang was a tradition of lyric- and songwr…

Minnesang was a tradition of lyric- and songwriting in Germany that flourished in the Middle High German period, which began in the 12th century and continued into the 14th. People who wrote and performed Minnesang were known as Minnesänger, a song was called a Minnelied. The name derives from minne, the Middle High German word for love, as it was Minnesang’s main subject. The Minnesänger were similar to the Provençal troubadours and northern French trouvères in that they wrote love poetry in the tradition of courtly love in the High Middle Ages.

In the absence of reliable biographical information, there has been debate about the social status of the Minnesänger. Some clearly belonged to the higher nobility – the 14th century Codex Manesse includes songs by dukes, counts, kings, and the Emperor Henry VI. Some Minnesänger, as indicated by the title Meister (master), were clearly educated commoners, such as Meister Konrad von Würzburg. It is thought that many were ministeriales – members of a class of lower nobility, vassals of the great lords. Broadly speaking, the Minnesänger were writing and performing for their own social class at court, and should be thought of as courtiers rather than hired musicians. Friedrich von Hausen, for example, was part of the entourage of Friedrich Barbarossa, and died on crusade. As a reward for his service, Walther von der Vogelweide was given a fief by the Emperor Frederick II. Several of the best known Minnesänger are also noted for their epic poetry, among them Heinrich von Veldeke, Wolfram von Eschenbach, and Hartmann von Aue.

The earliest texts date from around 1150; the earliest named Minnesänger are Der von Kürenberg and Dietmar von Aist, clearly writing in a native German tradition in the 3rd quarter of the 12th century. This is referred to as the Danubian tradition. From around 1170, German lyric poets came under the influence of the Provençal troubadours and the French trouvères. This is most obvious in the adoption of the strophic form of the canzone, at its most basic a 7-line strophe with the rhyme scheme ab|ab|cxc, and a musical AAB structure, but capable of many variations. A number of songs from this period match trouvère originals exactly in form, indicating that the German text could have been sung to an originally French tune, which is especially likely where there are significant commonalities of content. Such songs are termed contrafacta. For example, Friedrich von Hausen’s “Ich denke underwilen” is regarded as a contrafactum of Guiot de Provins’s “Ma joie premeraine”.

By 1190, the German poets began to again break free of Franco-Provençal influence. This period is regarded as the period of Classical Minnesang with Albrecht von Johansdorf, Heinrich von Morungen, Reinmar von Hagenau developing new themes and forms, reaching its culmination in Walther von der Vogelweide, regarded both in the Middle Ages and in the present day as the greatest of the Minnesänger. The later Minnesang, from around 1230, is marked by a partial turning away from the refined ethos of classical minnesang and by increasingly elaborate formal developments. The most notable of these later Minnesänger, Neidhart von Reuental introduces characters from lower social classes and often aims for humorous effects.

Only a small number of melodies have survived to the present day, mainly in manuscripts dating from the 15th century or later. There are a number of recordings of Minnesang using the original melodies, as well as Rock groups such as Ougenweide performing songs with modern instruments.

In the 15th century, Minnesang developed into and gave way to the tradition of the Meistersänger. The two traditions are quite different, however; Minnesänger were mainly aristocrats, while Meistersänger usually were commoners. At least two operas have been written about the Minnesang tradition: Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser and Richard Strauss’ Guntram.

Till Eulenspiegel is the protagonist of a Germ…

Till Eulenspiegel is the protagonist of a German chapbook from 1515 (a first edition of circa 1510/12 is preserved fragmentarily) with a possible background in earlier Middle Low German folklore.

Eulenspiegel is a native of Braunschweig (Brunswick) whose picaresque career takes him to many places throughout the Holy Roman Empire. He plays practical jokes on his contemporaries, especially scatological in nature, exposing vices at every turn. His life is set in the first half of the 14th century, and the final chapters of the chapbook describe his death from the plague of 1350. His name translates to “owl mirror”, and the frontispiece of the 1515 chapbook, as well as his alleged tombstone in Mölln, Schleswig-Holstein, display the name in rebus writing, by an owl and a hand mirror. Retellings of the Eulenspiegel tradition have been published in modern literature, since the later 19th century. Notably, The Legend of Thyl Ulenspiegel and Lamme Goedzak by Charles De Coster (1867) transfers the character to the context of the Protestant Reformation and the Dutch Revolt. The Ulenspiegel (modern Dutch: Tijl Uilenspiegel) from this novel became a symbol of Flemish independence. Read more:

The Sängerkrieg (minstrel contest), aka Wartbu…

The Sängerkrieg (minstrel contest), aka Wartburgkrieg (Wartburg contest), was a supposed contest among Minnesänger (minstrels) at the Wartburg, a castle in Thüringen, Eastern Germany, in 1207. Whether the contest was purely legend or had some basis in an actual event has been debated since the Middle Ages. Local historians, such as Dietrich von Apolda in the 1200s and Johannes Rothe (1360-1434) suggested that the poems referred to an actual event. In the 19th century, Johann Rinne argued that the events never occurred. Continue reading: