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The hurdy-gurdy is an instrument found throughout Europe and is known as the vielle in France, the Drehleier in Germany, and the Ghironda in Italy.  The English term originated in nineteenth-century England as a derisive name for an instrument played by indigent street musicians.

The hurdy-gurdy is a member of the bowed string family like the violin. The bow is a wooden, rosin-covered wheel turned with a crank that rubs against the strings.

During the eighteenth century it was a favorite instrument of the upper classes, and its bagpipe-like sound evoked the pastoral images.  Many composers wrote chamber music for the instrument, while others arranged music of a more popular nature, such as vocal music from operas and dance tunes.  Other composers copied the sound of the instrument in works for orchestra or harpsichord.

Robert Green, hurdy-gurdy


Lee Chapman, baroque guitar
Myrna Herzog, quinton
Bozena Jedrzejczak, harpsichord
Peter Middleton, baroque flute
Lisa Nielson, bass viol