NEITHART VON REUENTAL, The Minnesinger

(Neithart von Reuenthal, Riuwental Riwental)

(One among many Neidhart/Nithart name bearers)

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Neidhart von Reuenthal, a Bavarian poet by birth, is one of the most popular knightly poet/singer from the XIIIth century. He has influenced poetry during almost the next two centuries.

His dates of birth and death are controversed: they range from 1180 for his birth to 1237-1250 for his death. He originated from an aristocratic (noble) but poor family. He seems to have participated to a cruisade in 1217-1219 and  settled in Austria afterwards where he  was  performing for the court.

He introduced a new style referred to as höfische Dorfpoesie (courtly village poetry) at the time courtly love lyric from the medieval period was declining.

Surprisingly, he is one of the few early german medieval poet that crossed the centuries apparently with about 150 melodies and over 60 poems still referenced to-day. It seems that he was the only Minnesinger whose music was printed during the Renaissance period.

He broke from the conventional  court love by introducing more realism and  vigor in poetry and music. It is a fusion of court and folk music traditions.

While traditional Minnesingers where usually restricting themselves to the expression of an idealized love of a knight for a lady, Neidhart von Reuenthal devoted his poems to rural life in a satiric way, with crude expressions and lots of double meanings that can hardly be translated in current language. 

Typically,  his satiric poesy can be devided into Winter and summer songs:  The winter songs mainly describe wild dance scenes indors and village life. The summer songs are structured around dance songs, dealing with courtly love, with a knightly band playing dance music in a village to win the heart of a peasant girl. In their parody of knightly values and the criticism of rough and crude manners of the farmers, the summer songs clearly break with the tradition.

His tomb is in the Vienna St Stephen's Cathedral.

There are several recordings of the Neidhart von Reuenthal songs and poems. The ensemble Tourdion & Manfred Kaempfert made an excellent  5 pieces recording titled "Her Nîthart hât gesungen" (ref Tourdion TCD2-DDD). Visit their site at www.tourdion.de/

Extract from their recording: Mirst von Herzen leide *

I know also the "Joculatores Upsalienses"  (ref BIS-CD-75) who recorded  two pieces: Three May songs & Winder,dîniu meil.

There are few paintings/drawings relating to him:

minesing.jpg (73346 octets)    minesin4.jpg (105029 octets)   minesin3.jpg (104096 octets)

- 1 Neidhart von Reuenthal: miniature in the "Manessische Liederhandschrift, known as Codex Manesse**

- 2 Remains of  the oldest secular murals in Vienna!. This work was commissioned a local artist by a wealthy Viennese council member and cloth merchant The walls of his banquet hall was decorated with stories in Nedhart's songs **

- 3  Peasants trying to damage Neidhart's tombstone through the protective grids, in the St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna..

- 4   Neidhart-Grab, St Stephan in Wien.

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* by courtesy of Manfred Kaemfert and the Tourdion ensemble)

* *by courtesy of Vienna Museum AEIOU

Reuenthal_1.jpg (312995 octets)   Reuenthal_2.jpg (260381 octets)

These two Neidhart von Reuental-pictures are from the book: "Herr Neidhart diesen
Reihen sang", Kümmerle Verlag, Göppingen, 1989 (Siegfried Beyschlag und Horst
Brunner).

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