Balther of Säckingen was a remarkable scholar, writer and composer, who was born about 930, made bishop of Speyer in 970, and died in 986 or 987. Educated at the famous monastery in St. Gallen, he went as a wandering student in search of learning as far as North Spain. He had a special veneration for St Fridolin, founder of a convent in Säckingen. On his travels Balther found a copy of a Life of St Fridolin, memorized it, wrote it down on his return home, composed chants to be sung on the feast day of the saint, and sent both the Life (vita) and the chants (historia) to one of his former teachers at St. Gallen for approval. Balther says he composed them “per musicam artem”, “according to the art of music”. This paper tells how Balther’s chants came to be composed and compares them with others in order to understand what was considered to be “musical art” around 970.
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