meistersinger (mĪˈstərsĭngˌər, Ger. mĪˈshtərzĭngˌər) [key] [Ger., = mastersinger], a member of one of the musical and poetic guilds that flourished in German cities during the 15th and 16th cent. The guilds or schools comprised chiefly artisans who claimed artistic descent from the courtly minnesingers. Each member was required to compose and sing according to rigid technical formulas laid down in the Tabulatur. Candidates for the coveted rank of Meister were judged in public contest. Some of the song texts of Hans Sachs and others became famous, but it was Richard Wagner's opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1868) that popularized knowledge of the movement.
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