Skip to main content

The Oxford Trobadors, Occitan poetry and song.

In preparation for the Oxford Trobadors concert for the Oxford Proms on 12th August, I have been working on Jaufre Rudel's lovely poem and song Quan lo riu de la fontana (When the water of the fountain). It is one of the medieval Occitan troubadours pieces in our repertoire.

So many of the songs of the troubadours tell of the pain of an unattainable love, a love far away, or amors de lonhdana. 

Amors de terra lonhdana           Those I love in a far off land
Per vos totz lo cors mi dol         for you all my body aches
E n'on puec trobar meizina        and I cannot find the remedy.


According to legend Jaufre Rudel was inspired to go on  a crusade after hearing of the beauty of Countess Hodierna of Tripoli. She was his amor de lonhdana.  Sadly he fell ill on the journey and was brought ashore in Tripoli a dying man.

Countess Hodierna is said to have come down from her castle on hearing the news.  Rudel died in her arms.

Is this romantic story true? Perhaps not, but it doesn't matter. It represents so much of  the poetry of Rudel.   I think of the story whenever I sing Lo Riu de la Fontana.

The music of the Oxford Trobadors is inspired by the langauge, poetry and culture of  Occitan, a language spoken today across the south of France and parts of Northern Italy.


One song that perhaps represents the spirit of the Oxford Trobadors is L'aiga de la Dordogna (waters of the Dordogne) composed by Jean Bonnefon of the renowned Occitan group Peiraguda. One of us, Denis Noble, performed this song 30 years ago in the town square in Ribérac as part of  a soirée occitane organised by Radio Périgord. It led to the formation of the Oxford Trobadors in 1998, and the song is a major feature of our repertoire. You can read the history of this event on the Oxford Trobadors website either in English or in Occitan.

It reminds us too that Occitan is a living language and culture of which as a group here in England we are proud to be a part.

You may also be interested in my article on the Battle for Regional Languages in France

Ray Noble is lead Tenor with the Oxford Trobadors

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Palm Oil production killing the planet

Bad trade and bad products are killing our planet. We have said this before on The Thin End. There is no better example than that of palm oil. It is used ubiquitously in so many products, and its production is a major factor destroying rainforests and threatening precious species.

Demand for palm oil is 'skyrocketing worldwide'. It is used in packaging and in so much of our snack foods, cookies, crackers, chocolate products, instant noodles, cereals, and doughnuts, and the list goes on.
Bad for the planet So, why is this so bad for the planet?

The oil is extracted from the fruit of the oil palms native to Africa. It is now grown primarily in Indonesia and Malaysia, but is also expanding across Central and West Africa and Latin America.

Palm oil production is now one of the world's leading causes of rainforest destruction, and this is impacting adversely some of the world's most culturally and biologically diverse ecosystems. Irreplaceable wildlife species like t…

Time to ban organophosphate pesticides?

How would you react if your neighbour told you he was going to spray his garden with a neurotoxin used in WW2? "Oh don't worry!" he assures you, "it's only a low dose!"
"A neurotoxin?" you ask incredulously "Are you crazy?"
"It's very effective!" he asserts.
"How does it work?" you ask.
"It stops the pests' brains working" he asserts with a smile.  "Everyone uses it."
"But..."

Campaigners in the USA hope that with Scott Pruitt’s resignation, and with a new administrator Andrew Wheeler at the helm of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this presents another chance to apply pressure and achieve a national ban in the United States on the organophosphate pesticide chlorpyrifos once and for all.



Organophosphate insecticides, such as diazinon, chlorpyrifos, disulfoton, azinphos-methyl, and fonofos, have been used widely in agriculture and in household applications as pesticides si…

Dame Emma Thompson leads charge against rainforest destruction

Dame Emma Thompson, backed by a host of other famous names, has taken aim at big brands including Unilever, Nestle and Mondelez today, as Greenpeace releases a powerful new 90-second animation that highlights how orangutans are being pushed to the brink of extinction because of deforestation for palm oil.



Launched globally today, just ahead of International Orangutan Day (on August 19), the film, voiced by Emma Thompson, will also be shown across UK cinemas with thousands of screenings throughout August and September. It has been made by creative agency Mother (directed by award-winning Salon Alpin) and produced by Oscar-winning Passion Animation Studios.

Celebrities taking to social media to share it include Stephen Fry, Bryan Adams, Jodie Kidd, Alesha Dixon, Andy Serkis, Geri Horner (née Halliwell), Gregg Wallace and Sharon Osbourne.

The film tells the story of baby Rang-tan as she causes mischief in a little girl’s bedroom. Just as the girl is about to banish her, she asks Rang-tan…