Give Now

Harmonia Early Music

Harmonia Time Capsule: Notre Dame Cathedral

Let’s take a quick look back in time…in a special Harmonia Time Capsule tracing the history of one of the world’s most well-known cathedrals.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

Photo: picmasta (flickr)

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

Standing in the middle of Paris, you need only to look up to see the glory of Notre Dame Cathedral.  This gothic masterpiece has inspired authors, poets, and artists for centuries, and has a history that becomes inextricably tied to the development of Western music.

Construction on Notre Dame Cathedral started in 1163 under the rule of King Louis VII.  Coinciding with the Notre Dame School of polyphony and the composers Leonin and Perotin, the first stage of Notre Dame’s construction lasted from 1163 to 1245.

Over the course of the next century, the cathedral would undergo additions and alterations by multiple architects, the end result being a cathedral featuring a combination of Gothic styles.

As a religious landmark for France and an emblem of the monarchy in Paris, the cathedral played host to a number of important royal weddings such as the 1558 ceremony of Mary, Queen of Scots and Francis II of France.

Following the French Revolution, the cathedral was the site of Napoleon Bonaparte’s coronation as Emperor of France in 1804.

A controversial restoration project in the 1850’s brought the addition of the spire, which remains a part of the cathedral to the present day.

Perhaps best known in popular culture as the inspiration for Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, published in 1831, the cathedral plays host to the immortal literary characters Esmerelda, Claude Frollo, and of course, the hunchback of Notre Dame himself, Quasimodo.

Today, the cathedral is designated a historic monument in the city of Paris, and serves as a major tourist attraction, both for architecture and literary enthusiasts, and the Catholic faithful.

Music excerpt

Antonio Vivaldi: Concerto in G for 2 mandolins RV 532: Allegro
New London Consort/Philip Pickett, dir — Antonio Vivaldi: Concertos and Cantatas (Decca, 1997)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

Additional information about people, music, and events mentioned in this time capsule

Notre Dame de Paris; a short history & description of the cathedral, with some account of the churches which preceded it
Charles Hiatt
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Victor Hugo
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

The Gargoyles of Notre-Dame: Medievalism and the Monsters of Modernity
Michael Camille
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

[playlist-item 5]

Antonio Vivaldi: Concerto in G for 2 mandolins RV 532: Allegro
New London Consort/Philip Pickett, dir — Antonio Vivaldi: Concertos and Cantatas (Decca, 1997)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Notre Dame de Paris; a short history & description of the cathedral, with some account of the churches which preceded it
Charles Hiatt
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Victor Hugo
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
The Gargoyles of Notre-Dame: Medievalism and the Monsters of Modernity
Michael Camille
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Harmonia Early Music

Harmonia Early Music is a nationally syndicated weekly early music radio program, podcast and blog produced by WFIU Public Radio.

View all posts by this author »

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Harmonia Early Music:

More Subscription Options

Follow Us

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About Harmonia Early Music

About The Hosts

Search Harmonia Early Music

where to hear harmonia