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Knights Templar

On Harmonia this week we’ll explore the Naxos label release "Time of the Templars." Also, we'll review a new release by viola da gambist Susanne Heinrich.

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grotesques inside of temple church

Photo: Bahi P

A view of grotesques found inside of Temple Church (London), the English headquarters of the Knights Templar.

Of the many fascinating releases put out by the Naxos label, “Time of the Templars” stands out as an especially creative idea that draws from their back catalog.  The recording seeks to create a narrative from the music that the medieval crusaders known as the Knights Templar might have heard as they traveled across Europe and the Near East, ultimately arriving at Jerusalem.  Each of the three recordings in the set has a guiding theme: Music for a Knight, for the Church, and of the Mediterranean.  It begins with Christian music then moves on to programs from Jewish and Islamic traditions.

The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon was the official title of the Templars, who were founded at the beginning of the 12th Century, initially to guide the Pilgrims across Europe as they made their way to Jerusalem.  The Catholic Church soon gave them official endorsement, increasing their popularity.

The Knights Templar were, in fact, a favored charity throughout Europe.  As their popularity grew, their wealth rose along with their numbers.  They often received money, businesses, land, and even the sons of noble families who were trained and sent on crusades.  Over a period of nearly two centuries the Templars amassed incredible power and riches.

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.  And so it was for the Templars.  Their power and wealth ultimately became the focal point of rival jealousy.  They ceased to be in 1312 when Pope Clement V dissolved the order and had their assets confiscated.  The Knights Templar, who once existed above the law, were now gone and their history turned into legend.  Today, that legend lives on in popular culture and folklore.

Our new release of the week brings us the solo viola da gamba music of Carl Friedrich Abel from the Hyperion label.  Entitled “Mr. Abel’s Fine Airs,” England-based gambist Susanne Heinrich offers a program of select pieces.

Music Heard On This Episode

Anon.: Sallalahu ala Muhammed
Various — Time of the Templars: Music for the Mediteranean (CD 3) (Naxos , 2007)
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Anon.: Sallalahu ala Muhammed
Various — Time of the Templars: Music for the Mediteranean (CD 3) (Naxos , 2007)
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Anon.: Clauso Cronos
Various — Time of the Templars: Music for a Knight (CD 1) (2007, 2007)
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Anon.: Axe Phebus Aureo
Various — Time of the Templars: Music for a Knight (CD 1) (Naxos , 2007)
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Anon.: Saltarello no. 1
Various — Time of the Templars: Music for a Knight (CD 1) (Naxos , 2007)
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Anon.: O Pastor Animarum
Various — Time of the Templars: Music for a Knight (CD 1) (Naxos , 2007)
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Anon.: Notum Fecit
Various — Time of the Templars: Music for a Knight (CD 1) (Naxos, 2007)
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Anon.: A La Nana
Various — Time of the Templars: Music for a Knight (CD 1) (Naxos , 2007)
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Anon.: Laudate Deum
Various — Time of the Templars: Music for the Church (CD 2) (Naxos , 2007)
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Anon.: Tempus est iocundum
Various — Time of the Templars: Music of the Mediterranean (CD 3) (Naxos , 2007)
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Anon.: Kod Bethlehema
Various — Time of the Templars: Music of the Mediterranean (CD 3) (Naxos , 2007)
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Anon.: Düdül – traditional Turkish
Various — Time of the Templars: Music of the Mediterranean (CD 3) (Naxos , 2007)
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Anon.: Kyrie Eleison – Christian-Arabic tradition
Various — Time of the Templars: Music of the Mediterranean (CD 3) (Naxos , 2007)
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Anon.: Pesrev – Whirling Dervish music – 13th Century Turkey
Various — Time of the Templars: Music of the Mediterranean (CD 3) (Naxos, 2007)
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Anon.: Keh Moshe – traditional Jewish, 12th century
Various — Time of the Templars: Music of the Mediterranean (CD 3) (Naxos, 2007)
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Anon.: Koleda na bozic – traditional Croatian
Various — Time of the Templars: Music of the Mediterranean (CD 3) (Naxos, 2007)
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Carl Friedrich Abel: [Allegro] WKO 192
Susanne Heinrich (vdg) — Mr. Abel’s Fine Airs (Hyperion, 2007)
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Bernard Gordillo

Bernard Gordillo was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and raised in New Orleans. He holds degrees from Centenary College of Louisiana, the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London). Bernard also writes and hosts the Harmonia Early Music Podcast.

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