(b Bavaria; d Hirsau, 4 July 1091). Benedictine writer on music and astronomy. Wilhelm was educated in the monastery of St Emmeram, Regensburg, where his works are commonly believed to have been written. He was made abbot of the monastery of Hirsau in the Black Forest in 1069, actually assuming office two years later. Although not known as a composer, he was said by one early biographer to have corrected many errors in songs, presumably plainchant; he was thus a participant in the widespread attempts of that epoch to bring traditional chant into line with new modal theories. His major work on music is presented as a dialogue with his learned teacher, Otloh of St Emmeram, although the special advantages of that method of exposition are not exploited. Possibly the work was originally conceived in another form, then mechanically transformed into a dialogue. Two of the four manuscripts of the complete text present it as one book; the other two have it as two, but divided at different points. The texts, however, appear to be substantially the same.
The work deals for the most part with the fashionable topics of Germanic music theory of the time: species of intervals, tetrachords, the relation of both to octave scales and the technical description of the eight church modes in terms of those concepts (see Mode, §II, 3(ii) (b)). Wilhelm described his treatise as a kind of introduction (isagoge) leading towards the unknown and having, as a particular advantage, a mixture of ancient ideas (e.g. those of Boethius) and modern (e.g. those of Hermannus Contractus). At any rate, the work is not for beginners, a point reflected both in its rather unclear organization and in its belletristic style. One of Wilhelm’s chief concerns is an elaborate and somewhat obscure diagram of the modes coordinated with a divided monochord, designated ‘Theorema troporum’ or ‘Cribrum monochordi’ by him, and ‘Quadripartita figura’ by other authors. Wilhelm is thought by some present-day scholars to have concerned himself with organ pipe mensuration on the basis of citations contained in the text of Aribo (GerbertS, ii, 223a) and Eberhard von Freising (GerbertS, ii, 281a), but the question is still undecided.
It is sometimes stated that a second substantial work of Wilhelm’s entitled De musica et tonis was found in a manuscript owned by the German antiquarian Theophil von Murr in the 18th century but now lost. It appears, however, that the manuscript survives (as D-Mbs Clm 14965b) and that the work itself is a ghost. Critical assessment of Wilhelm’s work varies widely. Where some claim for him a great influence on the development of medieval music theory, others see him as somewhat isolated and of purely local significance. The influence of his work is difficult to detect, with the one exception of a very close relationship to the, on many accounts superior, work of his pupil Theogerus of Metz (GerbertS, ii, 182–96).
W.Urban: Wilhelm von Hirsau: Reformer und Klostergründer (Ostfildern, 1991)
Wilhem, Guillaume Louis Bocquillon
(b Paris, 18 Dec 1781; d Paris, 26 April 1842). French teacher. He was the originator of a system of teaching sight-singing to classes of adults and children which in 1840 was adapted by John Hullah for English use. He was the son of an army officer and after a short period as an army cadet was admitted to the Paris Conservatoire in 1801. He then became teacher of music successively at the Military Academy of Saint-Cyr and the Lycée Napoléon. When the monitorial system of teaching was introduced in Paris in 1815, Wilhem devised a musical manual laid out in the form of question and answer to enable monitors to undertake the elementary instruction of a class of children. After four years’ experimental use his system was formally adopted in 1820 in the monitorial schools controlled by the Society for Elementary Instruction in Paris. In 1835 its use was extended to the city’s municipal schools.
In 1833, for the benefit of his former pupils, Wilhem established a choral society which eventually grew into a national institution known as L’Orphéon; and it was in order to provide tenors and basses to join these young singers that in 1835 he organized his first singing classes for adults. By 1836 Wilhem ran ten weekly classes at Guizot’s Association Polytéchnique, each one attended by hundreds of artisans. Wilhem’s system, published as Manuel musical (Paris, 1836) in many revised editions, contained few original teaching devices. It employed ‘fixed’ sol-fa, presented a series of exercises successively based on the various diatonic intervals, and included original songs which followed the same principle. As the system owed most of its success to Wilhem’s own energy and established position it did not long survive his death, except in England and in Hullah’s adaptation (London, 1842/R).
EMDC, II/i–vi (1925–31)
B.Rainbow: The Land without Music: Musical Education in England, 1800–1860 (London, 1967)
Wilkes, Josué T(eófilo)
(b Buenos Aires, 8 Jan 1883; d 10 Jan 1968). Argentine musicologist and composer. He entered the National Conservatory in Buenos Aires (1905), where he studied harmony and composition with Williams, the cello with Marchal and singing with Rinaldi. In 1908 he left for Europe and in 1910 was a student at the Schola Cantorum in Paris; he also worked with Lyapunov in St Petersburg during this period. Returning to Argentina in 1914, he spent many years teaching at primary schools. Later he taught music in the adult school at Quilmes, near Buenos Aires (1946), and music history at the Universidad del Litoral, Santa Fé (1948–56). He devoted himself principally to the study of colonial and indigenous music.
Ops: Nuit persane (lyric comedy, 2), 1916–20; Por el cetro y la corona (after J. Racine: Bajazet), 1924; El horóscopo (tragedy, 4, after P. Calderón), 1926–7