The book of Alienor

An exceptional program between sacred and profane that pays tribute to two great female figures of history: Eleanor of Brittany and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

For 5 unaccompanied women’s voices

Duration: 1h15

Program premiere : 26th of September of 2015 in the Royale Abbey of Fontevraud

Monophonic and polyphonic parts of the Gradual of Eleanor of Brittany (thirteenth and fourteenth centuries) precedes “The song of William of Aquitaine”, piece of the composer Philippe Hersant, inspired by a poem by William IX, grandfather of Eleanor of Aquitaine (ordered by the Fontevraud Abbey).

In this program they are from the Gradual songs from the Mass for the Vigil of the Assumption, sequences and two polyphony, improvised polyphony as it was in then. Joined the program three pieces of English origin that could have been sung in fondations from Fontevraud in England, as Amesbury where Eleanor of Brittany was born in 1275. Gradual of Eleanor of Brittany is exceptional. Richly illuminated, it consists 301 sheets. After a stay at the English convent of Amesbury, Eleanor of Brittany arrives at Fontevraud in 1290 and pronounced her vows there. She becomes the sixteenth abbess in 1304 and at his death in 1342, she bequeathed the Gradual with her coat of arms. This is a unique source for the study of the practice of Gregorian chant in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In 2013, Xavier Kawa Topor and Françoise Baudin, directors of the Fontevraud Abbey – Cultural Encounter Centre, ask Oulipo poets to imagine that read Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. In 2013, a book is published that opens with an enigmatic poem written by William IX, first troubadour and grandfather of Eleanor of Aquitaine: Farai a verse from dreit nien, that is to say “I make a nothingness pure singing. ” It is this text that Philippe Hersant chose to set to music. Two songs of troubadours held him company, one of Guiraud Riquier (1254- 1292), one of Guirault Bornelh (1162 to 1199).

Listen to the album


Le livre d’Aliénor

Release date:
Ecoutez l’émission de France Culture “Continents Musique” avec l’ensemble De Caelis sur Le livre d’Aliénor et la thématique “Les femmes, le pouvoir et la musique”