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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As most of us will know, Carl Orff composed the most famous choral work of the C20th, Carmina Burana.

Orff was born in Munich, Germany in 1895 and studied at the Music Academy there until 1914. After military service during World War I, he held numerous positions at opera houses in Mannheim and Darmstadt, before returning to Munich to complete further studies.

From 1925 until his death in 1982, Orff worked at the Guenther School for gymnastics, music and dance in his native city. There he developed methods of teaching music to children, which are still practiced throughout the world today.

Orff had an ambigious relationship with the Nazi Party. On the one hand, he submitted music to replace Mendelssohn's banned A Midsummer Night's Dream, on the other he was a friend of Kurt Huber, one of the founders of the White Rose resistance movement.

It seems that the success and fame of Carmina Burana (1937), a cantata that combines medieval Latin and Old German lyrics with the rhythms and tonalities of the medieval period, has eclipsed all of his other works (which include other cantatas and stage works). Indeed, the famous opening O Fortuna has been used in many movies and television commercials.

I have not heard any of his other works, and am interested in people's impressions of not only his famous hit, but of any other works they may have heard.
 

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I love Carmina Burana, though this is a much looked down upon work by many classical cogniscenti. Not sure why. Perhaps its lack of tone rows?

His Schulwerk pieces are interesting, often rhythmically exciting.

Cantulli Carmina is another vocal work, but much less accessible and not as good as Carmin Burana.
 

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I love Carmina Burana, though this is a much looked down upon work by many classical cogniscenti. Not sure why. Perhaps its lack of tone rows?
Some people have looked down upon this work, as you say, since its inception. Stravinsky, whose Oedipus Rex influenced Orff, called Carmina Burana 'neo-neanderthal' due to it's repetitive rhythms. I do like other choral works better than Carmina, like Oedipus or Ramirez's Misa Criolla. It's not only because of the repetition, but the way it has saturated us through movies and ads. However, it's a great work, nonetheless, and I don't think I'd appreciate the others as much as I do, if I didn't know Carmina.
 

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I agree with Andre and Tapkaara in saying that Carl Orff was a fine composer. I was just humming Carmina Burana the other day. Man, I don't know it's just such an invigorating piece of music. The first movement always just sends chills down my spine.

Funnily enough I was in line at the market the other day and I was actually humming this piece and people were looking at me like I'm some kind of nut. One lady in particular was standing behind me and wanted to know who I was humming and I said "Oh I'm humming some Carl Orff," then I added "You know Carmina Burana." She lit up and said "Oh I was just humming that the other day. That's such a great rock song!" I looked at her and I was about to correct her and be a jerk about it but out of the goodness of my heart I told her "Yeah, it's a good rock song isn't it?" :D :D :D
 

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i really love Carmina Burana, but it's pretty baffling to me that Orff is only remembered for that piece..
that being said, i recently heard his last opera "De Temporum Fine Comoedia" and it's simply spectacular at parts.. the percussion section he assembled for that is just massive.. and the other two works that comprise the "Trionfi" are very good as well, imo. i've been eyeing the DG releases of both "Antigona" and "Oedipus Der Tyrann".. does anyone have them or have anything to say about them?
 

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I have always enjoyed Carmina Burana, but the Orff piece that I most treasure is the third in the so-called trilogy: Carmina Burana, Catulli Carmina, and -- Trionfo di Aphrodite. It's for large orchestra and voices, with some absolutely stunning melodies, luscious Romantic orchestrations, and the usual Orffian vigorous rhythms.

I also agree with Andruini about De Temporum Fine Comoedia; the end of this had me in tears the first time I heard it. I can't say that I consider Orff to be one of the great composers, for his range was too narrow overall, but his best work is often thrilling and very moving.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I just saw Carmina Burana performed live here in Sydney on the weekend & it was awesome! You really have to see it live to fully appreciate the dynamism generated by the large orchestra, large choir, children's choir and soloist singers, all playing and singing together. It was my first choral concert ever, it encourages me to go out & do more of this. Just superb stuff...
 

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I just saw Carmina Burana performed live here in Sydney on the weekend & it was awesome! You really have to see it live to fully appreciate the dynamism generated by the large orchestra, large choir, children's choir and soloist singers, all playing and singing together. It was my first choral concert ever, it encourages me to go out & do more of this. Just superb stuff...
Yeah, when I saw it live, one of the best concerts of my life.
 

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For those that admire and enjoy Carmina Burana, I can recommend sampling his later works, the short operas Der Mond and Die Kluge. Both are just as enjoyable in my opinion, possibly more so since they are lesser known (and hence lesser derided!). They are very similar in style to Carmina Burana, and quite comedic in places. I wish I understood German well enough to know what was going on though!
 

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I'm thinking of going to see Carmina Burana at a local concert pavilion later this month. I listened to the whole work for the first time a few days ago and was impressed. There's a lot of good music here besides the famous opening.
I agree the whole piece is great. Full of great rhythmic drive.
 

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I just love this piece.

O Fortuna is of course magnificent, but so many other parts are as well. I'm especially enthralled with the Baritone arias.

I have played it a few times, which is great. When you are playing trombone, you get to sit at the back, right in front of the choir! Now that does rock!

They had it as a closer here with the Vancouver SO. It was so amazing to sit in the audience - brought me to tears. The soloists were exceptional, and added small but effective dramatic elements to their performances.

My only qualm with this piece is I feel it takes a little bit to get going after the opening.
 

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I just love this piece.

O Fortuna is of course magnificent, but so many other parts are as well. I'm especially enthralled with the Baritone arias.

I have played it a few times, which is great. When you are playing trombone, you get to sit at the back, right in front of the choir! Now that does rock!

They had it as a closer here with the Vancouver SO. It was so amazing to sit in the audience - brought me to tears. The soloists were exceptional, and added small but effective dramatic elements to their performances.

My only qualm with this piece is I feel it takes a little bit to get going after the opening.
I used to play trombone to a decent standard, I never played this piece though. But I know the piece well and there are a few good places for you to shine - I'm jealous! I would have loved to have played this!
 

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The most scathing criticism I have heard was inadvertent, and came from my wife while I was listening. She said it sounded kinda like an elementary school music teacher playing the piano, with all the children singing.

It made me ponder; you know it is kind of simple, and diatonic, and direct. Perhaps that is its greatest strength; and weakness.

Orff and his wife did write some kinderwerks. They are quite charming, and a precursor to minimalism.
 

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I love Carmina Burana, though this is a much looked down upon work by many classical cogniscenti. Not sure why. Perhaps its lack of tone rows?
Well, it is pretty simple (read: direct) and uses pentatonic scales, and is very diatonic and very rhythmically direct. Plus, at the time it came out, just before WWII, Germany was gearing up to invade Poland and all the rest. Its "pagan" sound freaked a lot of people out. It sounds like a cult invocation in places, and the Nazis were sort of a cult.

His Schulwerk pieces are interesting, often rhythmically exciting.
I agree. Those are available on the Celestial Harmonies label in three CD volumes.

Cantulli Carmina is another vocal work, but much less accessible and not as good as Carmin Burana.
Try De temporum fine comodeium (Play for the end of time). It was also criticised because of the sentiment it expressed, when time had ended, the world was now under heavenly control, and "all sins were forgiven as if they never existed." Orff was accused of using this premise as a way to excuse the Nazi atrocities. Make up your own mind, but I like his music, and I believe he was innocent.
 
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The most scathing criticism I have heard was inadvertent, and came from my wife while I was listening. She said it sounded kinda like an elementary school music teacher playing the piano, with all the children singing.

It made me ponder; you know it is kind of simple, and diatonic, and direct. Perhaps that is its greatest strength; and weakness.

Orff and his wife did write some kinderwerks. They are quite charming, and a precursor to minimalism.
Bit harsh, did you tell her that?
 

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Carmina Burana is one of my guilty pleasure pieces. However, I think Orff has a lot of other better, more interesting pieces. A good place to start for most people would probably be the other two parts of Trionfi, Catulluli Carmina and Trionfo di Afrodite.
 
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