Hildegard of Bingen(1098-1179), born to a noble family, was convent-educated from the age of seven by Benedictine nuns at Disibodenberg, near Bingen, near the present-day town of Mainz. At age 43 she became abbess of her community, a position whose responsibilities did not keep her from pursuing an astonishing variety of creative and scholarly accomplishments. Historians know Hildegard for her correspondence with bishops, popes, abbots, and kings; mystics for her book of visions; medical historians and botanists for her two books on natural history and medicine; and literary scholars for her morality play, the Ordo Virtutum.
Musicians are beginning to know Hildegard for her antiphons, hymns, and sequences, a large body of monophonic chants whose text and music are both by Hildegard. Her chants are rich in mystical images, and her melodies are elaborate, with florid melodic contours, ornamented inflections, and wide ranges.
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