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biography - Carl Orff

Carl Orff (July 10, 1895, Munich - March 29, 1982 Munich) was a German composer.

Orff is most known for Carmina Burana (1938), a "scenic cantata". It is the first of a trilogy that also included Catulli Carmina and Triunfo de Aphrodite, which reflected his interest in medieval German poetry. While "modern" in some of his compositional techniques, Orff in the trilogy is able to capture the spirit of the medieval period with infectious rhythms and easy tonalities. The medieval poems written in an early form of German and in Latin were often racy, but without descending into smut for smut's sake.

In pedagogical circles he is probably best remembered for his Schulwerk (1930-35), translated into English as his "Music for Children." Its simple musical instrumentation allowed even untutored child musicians to perform the piece with relative ease. Much of his life Orff worked with children, using music as an educational tool. Both melody and rhythm are often determined by the words, in either the German or English production. There is a feeling of enthusiasm that echo the joy the performers obviously feel in creating such beautiful music.

Orff was reluctant to call any of his works just operas. For example, he called Der Mond ("The Moon") (1939) a "Märchenoper": Fairytale Opera. Die Kluge ("The Wise Woman") (1943) would fall into the same category. In both there is that same medieval or timeless sound without actually copying the musical idioms of the period. The melodies, rhythms and, with them, the text are so memorable that they can be recalled years after one hearing, which is proof of a rare and flawless union of words and music.

Of his Antigone (1949) Orff said specifically, that it was not an opera, but a Vertonung, a "musical setting" of the ancient tragedy. The text is an excellent German translation, executed by Friedrich Hölderlin, of Sophocles' play of that name. The orchestration, particularly for the percussion section, is greater than tremendous. Some have called the style minimalist, which it may be in terms of melodic line, but it matches the emotional content of the original play with ease.

His last work, De Temporum Fine Comoedia ("A Play of the End of Time") had its premiere in Salzburg in 1967. In this highly personal work Orff presented a mystery play in which he summarized his view of the end time, sung in Greek, German, and Latin.


recommended recordings

Click here to learn more about Orff - Carmina Burana
Orff - Carmina Burana
Conductor: James Levine
Label: Polygram Records - #415136

Track List

1. Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi: O Fortuna
2. Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi: Forutne plango vulnera
3. I Primo Vere: Veris leta facies
4. I Primo Vere: Omnia Sol temperat
5. I Primo Vere: Ecce gratum
6. Uf dem agner: Tanz
7. Uf dem agner: Floret silva
8. Uf dem agner: Chramer, gip die varwe mir
9. Uf dem agner: Reie. Swaz hie gat umbe.
   Chume, chum, geselle min! Swaz hie gat umbe
10. Uf dem agner: Were diu werlt alle min
11. II In Taberna: Estuans interius
12. II In Taberna: Olim lacus colueram
13. II In Taberna: Ego sum abbas
14. II In Taberna: In taberna quando sumus
15. III Cour D'amours: Amor volat undique
16. III Cour D'amours: Dies, nox et omnia
17. III Cour D'amours: Stetit puella
18. III Cour D'amours: Circa mea pectora
19. III Cour D'amours: Si puer cum puellula
20. III Cour D'amours: Veni, veni, venias
21. III Cour D'amours: In trutina
22. III Cour D'amours: Tempus est iocundum
23. III Cour D'amours: Dulcissime
24. Blanziflor et Helena: Ave formosissima
25. Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi: O Fortuna 

Click here to learn more about Orff -  Die Kluge  and Der Mond
Orff - Die Kluge and Der Mond
Conductor: Herbert Kegel
Label: Berlin Classics - #2104

Track List

Disc: 1

1. Clever Woman : Die Geschichte Vom Konig Und Der 
   Klugen Frau/Oh Hatt' Ich Meiner Tochter Nur Geglaubt
2. Clever Woman : Spass Muss Sein, Sprach 
   Die Katze Zum Vogel Und Frass Ihn
3. Clever Woman : Du, Also Du Bist Die Kluge
4. Clever Woman : Der Konig Hat Wieder Eine Frau
5. Clever Woman : Alles Ging Die Kreuz, Die Quer
6. Clever Woman : Weh Mir, Wie Konnt Mir Das Geschehn
7. Clever Woman : Heda! Was Gibt's, Wer Ist's?
8. Clever Woman : Frag Diesen Mann, Was Er Da Schafft
9. Clever Woman : So Also, So War's Gemeint
10. Clever Woman : Lass Mich Die Tafel Dir Bereiten
11. Clever Woman : Hab' Ich Euch Endlich, 
    Hab'ich Euch Erwischt

Disc: 2

1. Clever Woman : Komm Da Heraus, Der Konig Lasst Dich Frei
2. Clever Woman : Was Ist, Wo Bin Ich, Wer Hat Das Getan?
3. The Moon: Vorzeiten Gab Es Ein Land
4. The Moon: Was Ist Das? Was Ist Das Fur Ein Licht?
5. The Moon: Und Wann Ich Hamwarts Geh'
6. The Moon: Der Mond Ist Fort, Wer Hat Ihn 
   Denn Gestohlen?
7. The Moon: Wirt, Leute Kommen!
8. The Moon: Wenn Ihr Nachts Aus Der Taberne
9. The Moon: So Hangt Ihn Auf/Seht Den Mond
10. The Moond: Und Sie Brachten Den Geraubten
     Glucklich In Ihr Land
11. The Moon: Zwischenspiel
12. The Moon: Die 4 Versorgeten Den Mond Mit Ol
13. The Moon: Lieg' Ich Hier An Dieser Schwelle
14. The Moon: Und Als Der Erste Gestorben War
15. The Moon: Und Als Der Mond Dort Leuchtete
16. The Moon: Liebe Leichen, Hort Uns An
17. The Moon: Du Spielst, Als Lagst Du Noch Im Grab
18. The Moon: Floret Silva Undique
19. The Moon: Was Ist Da Los?
20. The Moon: Betrug! Betrug! Nun Ist's Genug!
21. The Moon: Was Ist Denn Das? 
    Was Ist Das Fur Ein Licht?
22. The Moon: Wie Kalt Ist's Draussen In Der Welt
23. The Moon: Sitz Ich Am Hohen Himmel
24. The Moon: Hort Ihr Toten, Lasst Euch Sagen
25. The Moon: So Brachte Petrus Die Toten Zur Ruh'
26. Der Mond: Ah, Da Hangt Ja Der Mond!

Click here to learn more about Carl Orff: Piano Music, Volume 3 Carl Orff: Piano Music, Volume 3

Click here to learn more about Orff-Schulwerk Volume 1: Musica Poetica
Orff-Schulwerk Volume 1: Musica Poetica
Label: Celestial Harmonies - #13104


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