Hildegard of Bingen
The Woman of Her Age
By Fiona Maddock
(Image, Paperback, 9780385498685, 352pp.)
Publication Date: May 20, 2003
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The twelfth-century German abbess Hildegard of Bingen would have been remarkable in any age. Today, her growing reputation as a composer of religious music has overshadowed the astonishing variety of her accomplishments and her part in the scientific, cultural, and theological revolution of the pre-Renaissance, from religion and mysticism to medicine and sex. Scivias, her book of apocalyptic visions, with its extraordinary and compelling illustrations, would alone have been enough to endure her lasting fame.
The story of Hildegard's life, from her entry into a monastery at Disibodenberg on the Rhine as a child, through the exploration of her pent-up genius in middle years, to her eventual admission to the German canon of saints, is here told against a rich background of the years of the Crusades, the flowering of monasticism, papal schism and heresy. The forceful character that emerges challenges any image of demurely subjugated womanhood associated with the period. Hildegard's story is as fascinating as that of any figure in the Middle Ages, and she and her musical legacy continue to be the subject of debate a thousand years later.
Fiona Maddocks is an award-winning writer and editor, and since 1997 has been chief music critic of The Observer (London). She was a member of the editorial team that set up Channel 4 television in Great Britain and later became the first music editor at The Independent (London). From 1992 to 1997 she was founding editor of BBC Music Magazine. She was educated at the Royal College of Music and Newnham College, Cambridge. She is married with two children and lives in Oxford, England.
“Maddocks adeptly shows why Hildegard continues to fascinate seekers.” —Publishers Weekly