Anonymous 4

Biography

Active: 1986 - ; Hungary
The female vocal quartet called Anonymous 4 has become one of the most popular and respected small vocal groups specializing in early music. The group has attained the elusive combination of popularity and respect through its unique blend of creativity and scholarly/historical depth.

The name "Anonymous 4" comes from a scholarly convention for designating anonymous medieval writers and scribes with numbers; working with a particular
Read more manuscript by the scribe known as Anonymous 4, they found it an ideal name for their new quartet. The group was formed in 1986. Its purpose was to experiment with the sound of medieval music (both chant and polyphony) as sung by higher voices. Its four members are all singers of considerable beauty of tone, range, and flexibility, but all of them had nontraditional backgrounds to one extent or another. Marsha Genensky, originally a folk singer, earned an M.A. in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania. She is an expert in traditional American shape-note singing, and experimented with different vocal techniques for the different strains of British-American folk song. Susan Hellauer, a native of New York City, was a trumpeter with a B.A. in music from Queens College. She had always been fascinated by vocal music of the medieval and Renaissance eras, leading her to become a singer and to earn advanced musicology degrees at Queens College and Columbia University. Jacqueline Horner, of Belfast, Northern Ireland, is the only non-American in the group. She attended Queen's University, earning a B.A. with joint honors in music and English. In London, she studied performance practice at City University and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Like many other medieval-oriented performers, she is interested in both early and modern music, and has performed with Pierre Boulez's Ensemble InterContemporain, the Ensemble for Early Music, Ensemble Moderne, and Continuum. She moved to New York, which she calls her "favorite city in the universe." Johanna Maria Rose has a broad background in several of the arts. She earned an M.A. in Early Music Performance at Sarah Lawrence College.

Anonymous 4 is renowned for the depth of its scholarship. Hellauer does the primary music research, and when needed prepares the group's repertory by transcribing it into modern notation from original sources. Genensky and Rose are in charge of language research and study of literary sources, and adapting readings for their concerts. The teamwork results in concerts that avoid presenting the music in a vacuum. Anonymous 4's programs are innovative and entertaining, relating the music to its time and milieu through narrative and poetry interwoven with the music. Sometimes they fill out groups of chants or fragmentary pieces of polyphony with music of their own composition in order to make convincing wholes, but the new music they create is done accurately enough to blend seamlessly with the medieval originals.

Beyond such historical considerations, the group's astonishingly beautiful and pure vocal blend has made it one of the leading acts in classical music recording. Despite being involved in what may seem a narrowly specialized academic area of music, they have sold about a million copies of their recordings on the Harmonia Mundi Label. Among these were On Yoolis Night, a medieval Christmas album that won the prestigious French Diapason d'Or award. Their first disc, An English Ladymass, was CD Review's Classical Early Music Disc of the Year, and their fourth, The Lily and the Lamb, was Classic CD's Disc of the Year for 1996. Tower Music reported that its 11,000 Virgins disc of music by Hildegard von Bingen was one of the top 100 Independent Label releases in 1997-1998. In 2003 the group turned to early American religious traditions with its American Angels album. Read less
Marie et Marion - Motets & Chansons from 13th-Century France / Anonymous 4
Release Date: 04/08/2014   Label: Harmonia Mundi  
Catalog: 807524   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 1-25 of 26 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    David Lang: Love Fail
    Label: Cantaloupe   Catalog: 21100 Release Date: 05/27/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  David Lang
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
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  • 2.
    Marie et Marion - Motets & Chansons from 13th-Century France / Anonymous 4
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 807524 Release Date: 04/08/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous
    Performer:  Ruth Cunningham,  Susan Hellauer,  Marsha Genensky,  Jacqueline Horner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
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  • 3.
    Landini - The Second Circle / Anonymous 4
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 507269 Release Date: 12/10/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Francesco Landini
    Performer:  Johanna Rose,  Jacqueline Horner,  Marsha Genensky,  Susan Hellauer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
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  • 4.
    On Yoolis Night  / Anonymous 4
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2927099 Release Date: 11/08/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Traditional
    Performer:  Johanna Rose,  Marsha Genensky,  Ruth Cunningham,  Susan Hellauer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
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  • 5.
    Wolcum Yule / Andrew Lawrence-king, Anonymous 4
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2927325 Release Date: 11/08/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Traditional,  Richard Rodney Bennett,  Peter Maxwell Davies  ... 
    Performer:  Jacqueline Horner,  Johanna Rose,  Susan Hellauer,  Marsha Genensky  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
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  • 6.
    Secret Voices - Chants & Polyphony From The Las Huelgas Codex / Anonymous 4
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 807510 Release Date: 10/11/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
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  • 7.
    The Cherry Tree / Anonymous 4
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 807453 Release Date: 09/14/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Traditional,  William Knapp,  William Billings
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
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  • 8.
    Miracles Of Compostela - Codex Calixtinus / Anonymous 4
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 507156 Release Date: 04/08/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous
    Performer:  Ruth Cunningham,  Marsha Genensky,  Johanna Rose,  Susan Hellauer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
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  • 9.
    Harmonia Mundi - The 2007 Calendar
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2908219 Release Date: 10/10/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten,  Robert Schumann,  Antonín Dvorák,  Hugo Wolf  ... 
    Performer:  Andrew Lawrence-King,  Johanna Rose,  Jacqueline Horner,  Susan Hellauer  ... 
    Conductor:  Philippe Herreweghe,  Josep Pons,  René Jacobs,  Paul Hillier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4,  Collegium Vocale,  Granada City Orchestra  ... 
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  • 10.
    Gloryland / Anonymous 4
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 907400 Release Date: 09/12/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Sarah Lancaster,  William Walker,  James C. Moore  ... 
    Performer:  Mike Marshall,  Darol Anger,  Marsha Genensky,  Susan Hellauer  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
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  • 11.
    Century Vol 6 - Ars Nova
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2908168 Release Date: 12/13/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Paolo da Firenze,  Francesco Landini,  Jacopo da Bologna  ... 
    Performer:  Marsha Genensky,  Susan Hellauer,  Jacqueline Horner,  Johanna Rose  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul Hillier,  Pedro Memelsdorff,  Marcel Pérès,  René Clemencic
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hilliard Ensemble,  Mala Punica,  Anonymous 4  ... 
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  • 12.
    Century Vol 3 - Gregorian Chant
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2908165 Release Date: 11/08/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Adam of St. Victor,  Anonymous
    Performer:  Ruth Cunningham,  Johanna Rose,  Susan Hellauer,  Marsha Genensky  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul Hillier,  Marcel Pérès,  Alfred Deller
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Theatre of Voices,  Ensemble Organum,  Anonymous 4  ... 
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  • 13.
    Century Vol 5 - The Birth Of Polyphony
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2908167 Release Date: 11/08/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Pérotin,  Léonin
    Conductor:  Marcel Pérès,  Paul Hillier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4,  Ensemble Organum,  Theatre of Voices
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  • 14.
    Noel - Carols & Chants For Christmas / Anonymous 4
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2907411 Release Date: 10/11/2005   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Anonymous,  John Tavener,  Benjamin Britten,  Traditional  ... 
    Performer:  Johanna Rose,  Susan Hellauer,  Marsha Genensky,  Ruth Cunningham  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
    CD: $55.49
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  • 15.
    The Origin Of Fire - Hildegard Von Bingen / Anonymous 4
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 907327 Release Date: 02/08/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Hildegard of Bingen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
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  • 16.
    American Angels / Anonymous 4
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 907326 Release Date: 02/10/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Moore,  William Walker,  William Bradbury,  Justin Morgan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
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  • 17.
    11,000 Virgins - Hildegard Von Bingen / Anonymous 4
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 807200 Release Date: 10/14/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Hildegard of Bingen
    Performer:  Susan Hellauer,  Marsha Genensky,  Johanna Rose,  Ruth Cunningham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
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  • 18.
    Christmas Music From Medieval Hungary / Anonymous 4
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 3957139 Release Date: 09/11/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous
    Performer:  Johanna Rose,  Susan Hellauer,  Marsha Genensky,  Ruth Cunningham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
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  • 19.
    Millennium Of Music Vol 2 - Alleluia This Sweete Songe
    Label: Valley Entertainment Classics   Catalog: 15024 Release Date: 06/03/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Anonymous,  Traditional,  Thomas Tallis  ... 
    Conductor:  William Christie,  Paul Hillier,  Dominique Vellard,  Alfred Deller  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants,  Theatre of Voices,  Anonymous 4  ... 
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  • 20.
    1000 - A Mass For The End Of Time / Anonymous 4
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 907224 Release Date: 09/12/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous
    Performer:  Jacqueline Horner,  Susan Hellauer,  Johanna Rose,  Marsha Genensky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
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  • 21.
    11,000 Virgins - Hildegard Von Bingen / Anonymous 4
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 907200 Release Date: 09/09/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Hildegard of Bingen
    Performer:  Marsha Genensky,  Ruth Cunningham,  Susan Hellauer,  Johanna Rose
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
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  • 22.
    Les Tres Riches Heures Du Moyen Age - A Medieval Journey
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 290649 Release Date: 11/21/1995   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Francisco de la Torre,  Marco Dall'Aquila,  Antonius Divitis,  Anonymous  ... 
    Performer:  Paul O'Dette,  Marcel Pérès,  Alfred Deller,  Jean-Etienne Langianni  ... 
    Conductor:  Mary Springfels,  Marcel Pérès,  Paul Hillier,  René Clemencic  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Newberry Consort,  Les Pages de la Chapelle,  Ensemble Organum  ... 
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  • 23.
    Einhorn: Voices Of Light / Anonymous 4, Et Al
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 62006 Release Date: 10/24/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Einhorn
    Conductor:  Steven Mercurio
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra,  Netherlands Radio Chorus,  Anonymous 4
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  • 24.
    Love's Illusion - From The Montpellier Codex / Anonymous 4
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 907109 Release Date: 08/23/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous
    Performer:  Johanna Rose,  Susan Hellauer,  Ruth Cunningham,  Marsha Genensky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
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  • 25.
    On Yoolis Night - Medieval Carols & Motets / Anonymous 4
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 907099 Release Date: 09/01/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Traditional
    Performer:  Johanna Rose,  Susan Hellauer,  Marsha Genensky,  Ruth Cunningham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anonymous 4
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