Sunday, January 9, 8270

Italian Dance (b. c. 1270) - Tristan - Trotto

[Tristan und Iseult, from a 1484 woodcut]

Italy (b. c. 1270) - Lamento di Tristano e La Rotta

Corvus Corax (1989) - La Rotta

The legend of Tristan and Iseult is an influential romance and tragedy, retold in numerous sources with as many variations. The tragic story of the adulterous love between the Cornish knight Tristan (Tristram) and the Irish princess Iseult (Isolde, Yseult, etc.), the narrative predates and most likely influenced the Arthurian romance of Lancelot and Guinevere, and has had a substantial impact on Western art and literature since it first appeared in the 12th century. While the details of the story differ from one author to another, the overall plot structure remains much the same.

There are two main traditions of the Tristan legend. The early tradition comprised the romances of two French poets from the second half of the 1100's, Thomas of Britain and Béroul. Their sources could be traced back to the original, archetypal Celtic romance. Later traditions come from the Prose Tristan (c. 1240), which was markedly different from the earlier tales written by Thomas and Béroul. The Prose Tristan became the common medieval tale of Tristan and Iseult that would provide the background for the writings of Sir Thomas Malory, the English author, who wrote Le Morte d'Arthur (c. 1469).

The story and character of Tristan vary from poet to poet. Even the spelling of his name varies a great deal, though "Tristan" is the most popular spelling. Most versions of the Tristan story follow the same general outline, though the details vary. After defeating the Irish knight Morholt, Tristan goes to Ireland to bring back the fair Iseult for his uncle King Mark to marry. Along the way, they accidentally ingest a love potion that causes the pair to fall madly in love. In the "courtly" version, the potion's effects last for a lifetime; in the "common" versions, however, the potion's effects wane after three years. Although Iseult marries Mark, she and Tristan are forced by the potion to seek one another out for adultery. Although the typical noble Arthurian character would be shamed from such an act, the love potion that controls them frees Tristan and Iseult from responsibility. The king's advisors repeatedly try to have the pair tried for adultery, but again and again the couple use trickery to preserve their façade of innocence. In Beroul's version, the love potion eventually wears off, and the two lovers are free to make their own choice as to whether they cease their adulterous lifestyle or continue.

As with the Arthur-Lancelot-Guinevere love triangle, Tristan, King Mark, and Iseult all hold love for each other. Tristan honors, respects, and loves King Mark as his mentor and adopted father; Iseult is grateful that Mark is kind to her, which he is certainly not obliged to be; and Mark loves Tristan as his son, and Iseult as a wife. But after they go to sleep every night, they would have horrible dreams about the future. Tristan's uncle eventually learns of the affair and seeks to entrap his nephew and his bride. Also present is the endangerment of a fragile kingdom, the cessation of war between Ireland and Cornwall. Mark gets what seems proof of their guilt and resolves to punish them: Tristan by hanging and Iseult by trial by ordeal and then putting her up in a lazar house (a leper colony). Tristan escapes on his way to the stake by a miraculous leap from a chapel and rescues Iseult. The lovers escape into the forest of Morrois and take shelter there until they are discovered by Mark one day. However, they make peace with Mark after Tristan's agreement to return Iseult to Mark and leave the country. Tristan then travels on to Brittany, where he marries (for her name and her beauty) Iseult of the White Hands, daughter of Hoel of Brittany and sister of Sir Kahedin.

In the Prose Tristan and works derived from it, Tristan is mortally wounded by Mark, who treacherously strikes Tristan with a poisoned lance while the latter is playing a harp for Iseult. The poetic versions of the Tristan legend offer a very different account of the hero's death, however. According to Thomas' version, Tristan was wounded by a poison lance while attempting to rescue a young woman from six knights. Tristan sends his friend Kahedin to find Iseult, the only person who can heal him. Tristan tells Kahedin to sail back with white sails if he is bringing Iseult, and black sails if he is not. Iseult agrees to return to Tristan with Kahedin, but Tristan's jealous wife, Iseult of the White Hands, lies to Tristan about the colour of the sails. Tristan dies of grief, thinking that Iseult has betrayed him, and Iseult dies swooning over his corpse. Several versions of the Prose Tristan include the traditional account of Tristan's death found in the poetic versions. In some sources it states that two trees (hazel and honeysuckle) grow out of their graves and intertwine their branches so that they can not be parted by any means. It was said that King Mark tried to have the branches cut 3 separate times, and each time, the branches grew back and intertwined, so therefore he gave up and let them grow.

A few later stories record that the lovers had a number of children. In some stories they produced a son and a daughter they named after themselves; these children survived their parents and had adventures of their own. In the romance Ysaie the Sad, the eponymous hero is the son of Tristan and Iseult; he becomes involved with the fay-king Oberon and marries a girl named Martha, who bears him a son named Mark.

There are many theories present about the origins of Tristanian legend, but historians disagree over which is the most accurate. There is a "Tristan stone," with its inscription about Drust, but not all historians agree that the Drust referred to is the archetype of Tristan. There are references to March ap Meichion and Trystan in the Welsh Triads, some of the gnomic poetry, Mabinogion stories and in the late 11th century Life of St. Illtud.

Drystan's name appears as one of Arthur's advisers at the end of The Dream of Rhonabwy, an early 13th century tale in the Welsh prose collection known as the Mabinogion, and Iseult is listed along with other great men and women of Arthur's court in another, much earlier Mabinogion tale, Culhwch and Olwen.

Some scholars believe that Ovid's Pyramus and Thisbe, as well as the story of Ariadne at Naxos might have also contributed to the development of the Tristan legend.

The sequence in which Tristan and Iseult die and become interwoven trees also parallels Ovid's love story of Baucis and Philemon in which two lovers are transformed in death into two different trees sprouting from the same trunk.

In its early stages, the tale was probably unrelated to contemporary Arthurian literature, but the earliest surviving versions already incorporate references to Arthur and his court. The connection between Tristan and Iseult and the Arthurian legend was expanded over time, and sometime shortly after the completion of the Vulgate Cycle (or Lancelot-Grail Cycle) in the first quarter of the 13th century, two authors created the vast Prose Tristan, which fully establishes Tristan as a Knight of the Round Table who even participates in the Quest for the Holy Grail.

The earliest representation of what scholars name the "courtly" version of the Tristan legend is in the work of Thomas of Britain, dating from 1173. Only ten fragments of his Tristan poem, representing six manuscripts, have ever been located: the manuscripts in Turin and Strassburg are now lost, leaving two in Oxford, one in Cambridge and one in Carlisle.

In his text, Thomas names another trouvère who also sang of Tristan, though no manuscripts of this earlier version have been discovered. There is also a fascinating passage telling how Iseult wrote a short lai out of grief that sheds light on the development of an unrelated legend concerning the death of a prominent troubadour, as well as the composition of lais by noblewomen of the 12th century.

The earliest representation of the "common branch" is Béroul's Le Roman de Tristan, the first part of which is generally dated between 1150 and 1170, and the latter part between 1181 and 1190. The branch is so named due to its representation of an earlier non-chivalric, non-courtly, tradition of story-telling, making more reflective of the Dark Ages than of the refined High Middle Ages. In this respect, they are similar to Layamon's Brut and the Perlesvaus. As with Thomas' works, knowledge of Béroul's is limited. There were a few substantial fragments of his works discovered in the nineteenth century, and the rest was reconstructed from later versions.

The Tristan legend proved very popular in Italy; there were many cantari, or oral poems (songs) performed in the public square, either about him, or frequently referencing him.

In the 19th century, Richard Wagner composed the opera Tristan und Isolde, now considered one of the most influential pieces of music from the century. In his work, Tristan is portrayed as a doomed romantic figure. I


[Bartolomeo Pinelli (1771-1835) - Saltarello]

Saltarello (c. 1300)

(David Munrow - Shawm, Trumpet, Nakers, Tabor, Tambourine)

(Medieval and Islamic Music - Flute, Tambourine / Rebec)

Corvus Corax (1989) - Saltarello

Saltarello [II]
(Medieval and Islamic Music)

Saltarello [III]
(Dufay Collective - Bagpipe - Cylindrical Chanter and Drone, Ensemble)

The saltarello was a lively, merry dance first mentioned in Naples during the 1200's. The music survives, but no early instructions for the actual dance are known. It was played in a fast triple meter and is named for its peculiar leaping step, after the Italian verb saltare ("to jump").

The saltarello enjoyed great popularity in the courts of medieval Europe. During the 1400's century, the word saltarello became the name of a particular dance step (a double with a hop on the final or initial upbeat), and the name of a meter of music (a fast triple), both of which appear in many choreographed dances. Entire dances consisting of only the saltarello step and meter are described as being improvised dances in 15th century Italian dance manuals. The first dance treatise that dealt with the saltarello was the 1465 work of Antonio Cornazzano.
[edit]Saltarello as a folk dance

Although a Neapolitan court dance in origin, the saltarello became the typical folk dance of Ciociaria and a favorite tradition of Rome in the Carnival and vintage festivities of Monte Testaccio.

The main source for the medieval Italian saltarello music is a late 1300's or early 1400's Tuscan manuscript at British Library labelled "Add. 29987." The musical form of these four early saltarelli is the same as the estampie. The most renowned opus of the manuscript is the second saltarello in the collection (simply designated Saltarello, above).

Tielman Susato included a Saltarello as part of Danserye (1551)

A guitar piece entitled "Saltarello" is attributed to Vincenzo Galilei, written in the 16th century

After witnessing the Roman Carnival of 1831, Felix Mendelssohn incorporated the dance into the finale of his Symphony No. 4 ("Italian").

Other versions of the best known medieval Saltarello include those of Dead Can Dance, as well as the Polish jazz pianist Leszek Mozdzer. Interpretations by guitarists John Renbourn and John Williams can also be found.

Versions by Italian musician Angelo Branduardi can also be found in his songs Il trattato dei miracol, Pioggia, Saltarello, Lamento di Tristano e Rotta.


[Italian: trotto: As a verb:
'trottò': 3rd Person singular past indicative of the verb 'trottare' Full conjugation
'trotto': 1st Person singular present indicative of the verb 'trottare' Full conjugation
trotto (Equitazione) nm trot (sport)
Compound Forms/Forme composte:
cavallo da corsa al trotto harness horse
corsa al trotto; di trotto harness racing
relativo al trotto del tacchino turkey-trot]


(Florilegium Musicum - Music at the Time of the Crusades)

(Medieval and Renaissance Recorder Music)

Trotto and Saltarello [IV] (Dufay Collective)


The Ninth Crusade, which is sometimes grouped with the Eighth Crusade, is commonly considered to be the last major medieval Crusade to the Holy Land. It took place in 1271–1272.

Louis IX of France's failure to capture Tunis in the Eighth Crusade led Prince Edward of England to sail to Acre in what is known as the Ninth Crusade. The Ninth Crusade failed largely because the Crusading spirit was nearly "extinct," and because of the growing power of the Mamluks in Egypt.

It also foreshadowed the imminent collapse of the last remaining crusader strongholds along the Mediterranean coast.

[8270 Worcester / 8270 Tristan Trotto / 8270 Te Deum]