Minnesang

Minnesang was the tradition of lyric and song writing in Germany which flourished in the 12th century and continued into the 14th century. People who wrote and performed Minnesang are known as Minnesingers.

Minnesang has much in common with the troubadour tradition of France, and it likely stemmed from that tradition, though developed features unique to it. Like the troubadors, the Minnesingers mainly sang of courtly love (this is where the Minne part of their name comes from).

Several of the best known Minnesingers are also noted for their epic poetry, among them Wolfram von Eschenbach and Gottfried von Strassburg. Other noted Minnesingers include Dietmar von Aist, Neidhart von Reuental, Heinrich von Morungen, and Walther von der Vogelweide.

A number of Minnelied have survived to the present day, although mainly in manuscripts dating from the 15th century or later, which may present the songs in a form other than the original one. Additonally, it is often rather difficult to interpret the musical notation used to write them down. Although the contour of the melody can usually be made out, the rhythm of the song is frequently hard to fathom.

Minnesang died out in the 15th century, and the tradition of the Meistersingers began. The two traditions are quite different, however (Minnesingers were mainly aristocrats, while Meistersingers were merchants, for example).

At least two operas have been written about the Minnesang tradition: Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser and Richard Strauss' Guntram.




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