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Biography

Neidhart von Reuenthal (1190-1245) was one of the Minnesingers - the German equivalent of the Troubadours. He was a Bavarian knight and minstrel in the service of Otto II. Not much is known about his life, which is a pity, as he was one of the most individual and out-standing personalities in the entire Minnesinger 'pantheon'. What is known is that his sharp wit and ruthless sense of humor made him many enemies both in and out of court, and he struck back by writing them into his songs - names and all - and having the last laugh at their expense. Veering, like Walther, from the courtly tradition of idealized love, Neidhart gave his songs a common village setting and wrote about common burgher life (he was the first to "lower" the "high" poetry into the middle classes). He was the master of satire, and his songs are full of dialogues, fights, and drunken brawls taking place between his enemies and himself - usually at a village festival, where the holiday atmosphere quickly degenerates into a chaos of flying fists until he, of course, emerges victorious (one of his featured songs "Meienzit ohne nit" falls in this category). Never missing an opportunity for self-irony, he composed some songs in the form of arguments between girls and old women - all of them fighting as to which one of them will be his lover. Neidhart wrote more for the common folk than for the court, and his link with the people ensured the popularity and immortality of his compositions - a higher percentage of his songs survives in music notation than those of other Minnesingers.

(description written/copyrighted by Helgi_Ruunen)

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