Bernard de Ventadorn
Biography of Bernard de Ventadorn
Bernart de Ventadorn also known as Bernard de Ventadour or Bernat del Ventadorn, was a prominent troubador of the classical age of troubadour poetry. Now thought of as "the Master Singer" he developed the cançons into a more formalized style which allowed for sudden turns. He is remembered for his mastery as well as popularisation of the trobar leu style, and for his prolific cançons, which helped define the genre and establish the "classical" form of courtly love poetry, to be imitated and reproduced throughout the remaining century and a half of troubadour activity.
Bernart was known for being able to portray his woman as a divine agent in one moment and then in a sudden twist, portraying her as Eve, the cause of man's initial sin. This dichotomy in his work is portrayed in a "graceful, witty, and polished" medium.
According to the troubadour Uc de Saint Circ, Bernart was possibly the son of a baker at the castle of Ventadour (Ventadorn), in today's Corrèze(France). Yet another source, a satirical poem written by a younger contemporary, Peire d'Alvernha, indicates that he was the son of either a servant, a soldier, or a baker, and his mother was also either a servant or a baker. From evidence given in Bernart's early poem Lo temps vai e ven e vire, he most likely learned the art of singing and writing from his protector, viscount Eble III of Ventadorn. He composed his first poems to his patron's wife, Marguerite de Turenne.
Forced to leave Ventadour after falling in love with Marguerite, he traveled to Montluçon(France) and Toulouse (France), and eventually followed Eleanor of Aquitaine to England and the Plantagenet court;evidence for this association and these travels comes mainly from his poems themselves. Later Bernart returned to Toulouse, where he was employed by Raimon V, Count of Toulouse; later still he went to Dordogne, where he entered a monastery. Most likely he died there. About 45 of his works survive.
Bernart is unique among secular composers of the twelfth century in the amount of music which has survived: of his forty-five poems, eighteen have music intact, an unusual circumstance for a troubador composer (music of the trouvères has a higher survival rate, usually attributed to them surviving the Albigensian Crusade, which scattered the troubadours and destroyed many sources). His work probably dates between 1147 and 1180. Bernart is often credited with being the most important influence on the development of the trouvère tradition in northern France, since he was well known there, his melodies were widely circulated, and the early composers of trouvère music seem to have imitated him. Bernart's influence also extended to Latin literature. In 1215 the Bolognese professor Boncompagno wrote in his Antiqua rhetorica that "How much fame attaches to the name of Bernard de Ventadorn, and how gloriously he made cansos and sweetly invented melodies, the world of Provence very much recognises."
On screen, Bernart was portrayed by actor Paul Blake in the BBC TV drama series The Devil's Crown (1978)
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Bernard de Ventadorn Poems
Non es meravelha s'eu chan
Non es meravelha s'eu chan melhs de nul autre chantador, que plus me tra.l cors vas amor el melhs sui faihz a so coman.
Quan l'herba fresqu'el.h folha
Can l'erba fresch'e.lh folha par e la flors boton'el verjan e.l rossinhols autet e clar leva sa vots e mou so chan,
Per mels cobrir lo mal pes (Anne)
Per melhs cobrir lo mal pes e.l cossire chan e deport et ai joi e solatz; e fatz esfortz car sai chantar ni rire, car eu me mor e nul semblan no.n fatz;
Pois preyatz me, senhor
Pois preyatz me, senhor, qu'eu chan, eu chantarai; e can cuit chantar, plor a l'ora c'o essai.
Bel m'es can eu vei la brolha
Bel m'es can eu vei la bròlha reverdir per mei lo brolh e.lh ram son cubert de folha e.l rossinhols sotz de folh
Era.m cosselhatz, senhor, vos c'avetz saber e sen: una domna.m det s'amor, c'ai amada lonjamen;
Amics Bernart de Ventadorn
Amics Bernartz de Ventadorn, com vos podetz de chant sofrir, can aissi auzetz esbaudir lo rossinholet noih e jorn?
Can vei la lauzeta
When I see the lark joyfully moving its wings against the sun's rays, and falling because of the sweetness that enters its heart, ah! a great envy comes upon me of all those who I see happy. I am astonished that my heart does not melt with desire.
Tant ai mo cor
Tant ai mo cor ple de joya, tot me desnatura. Flor blancha, vermeilh'e groya me par la frejura,
Cantarai d'aquest trobadors
Cantarai d'aquestz trobadors que canton de maintas colors e.l pieier cuida dir mout gen; mas a cantar lor er aillors
Lo gens temps de pascor
Lo gens temps de pascor ab la frescha verdor nos adui folh'e flor de diversa color,
Lancan vei per mei la landa
Lancan vei per mei la landa dels arbres chazer la fòlha, ans que.lh frejura s'espanda ni.l gens termini s'esconda,
When I Behold The Lark
When I behold the lark upspring To meet the bright sun joyfully, How he forgets to poise his wing In his gay spirit's revelry,
Lancan vei la folha
Tuit cil que.m preyon qu'eu chan, volgra saubesson lo ver, s'eu n'ai aize ni lezer. Chantes qui chantar volria,
Lo gens temps de pascor
Lo gens temps de pascor
ab la frescha verdor
nos adui folh'e flor
de diversa color,
per que tuih amador
son gai e chantador
mas eu, que planh e plor
c'us jois no m'a sabor