Carl Orff a German composer, was born in Munich, Germany on July 10, 1895. Munich had been the place where Orff grew up and where his life had been shaped. The childhood days of Orff brought him a lot of memories that he used later as inspirations for his works and compositions.
Carl Orff started to develop his talent in music at the age of 5. He received his first piano, organ, and cello lessons in 1900. At the age of 16, he had already composed almost 50 songs using the text of classical authors such as Heinrich Heine and Friedrich Hoelderlin (www.dhm.de).When he was at the age of 19, Orff served in First World War for a short period of time
Carl Orff's genius in music was nourished and developed into a master's art at the Academy for the Musical Arts, a music school in Munich where Orff studied. After finishing school, Orff worked for the old masters of music (www.orff.de).Among the music authorities that fascinated him, Orff admired Monteverdi the most. Because of this, he wrote his own arrangements of several of Monteverdi's works such as L'Orfeo, Lamento d' Arianna, and Ballo delle Ingrate (www.orff.de).
Together with Dorothy Gunther, Carl and Dorothy established the Gunther School in 1924. The Gunther School devotes in the line of movement and music. Also included in which are the music and dance, rhythm, and gymnastics (www.orff.de).
In Gunther School, with the help of his student Gunild Keetman, Orff developed the Orff Schulwerk ("school work") -- a structure of teaching that involves movement and music. It was from the Schulwerk that Orff designed an activity for children when the Bavarian Broadcasting Company requested him to create musical radio shows. He provided simple-to-play music instruments to children in which they can express themselves rhythmically and from which their motor skills can be developed. It was perhaps in Orff's belief to children's talent in music that made him designed improvised instruments and music techniques for children.
Carl Orff became famous for his "Carmina Burana" ("Songs of Beuren," 1937), a scenic oratorio that was composed from a collection of medieval German and Latin poems (New Columbia Encyclopedia, 1994) that he found in Benediktbeuern Monastery. Regarding this manuscript that he found, Carl Orff wrote
The goddess Fortuna must have been smiling on me when, as if by chance, she put a copy of a catalogue in my hands. It was published by a seller of old books in Wurzburg, and one title in the list attracted me with an almost magical force: Carmina Burana," (www.orff.de)
Carmina Burana," which premiered in 1937 in Frankfurt/Main, became a success that it was considered as the finest representation of contemporary music-theater during that time. With the success of "Carmina Burana," Orff stated
Everything I have written to date, and which you have, unfortunately, printed, can be destroyed. With Carmina Burana, my collected works begin." (www.fortlewis.edu)
Carmina Burana" is a part of a trilogy. The two others parts of which are "Catuli Carmina" ("Songs of Catullus," 1943), a scenic cantata based on the works of Catullus; and Triunfo de
Afrodite ("Triumph of Aphrodite," 1953) (New Columbia Encyclopedia, 1994). In this trilogy,
Orff displayed his attachment in medieval German poetry. Although the musical techniques he used in the trilogy were somehow modern, the spirit of the medieval period was nonetheless captured. Wikipedia (online) describes Orff's influences by the medieval as 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.
Inspired by fairytales, Orff derived his succeeding compositions such as "Little World Theater" and "The Clever One - The Story of the King and the Clever Woman" from fairytale materials. The "Little World Theater" was derived from "The Moon" of Brothers Grimm (www.orff.de).According to Orff, language, which is an essential component in "The Clever One," has always been important to his works. Because Orff's works were based from fairytales, he doesn't call them to be just operas. He wanted his fairytale-derived works to be called Fairytale Opera (Wikipedia, 2003). Some of Orff's works are the following.
Comoedia de Christi Resurrectione -- an Easter Play (1957)
Ludus de Nato Infante Mirificus -- a Christmas Play
Die Bernauerin (1947)
Antigonae (1949) -- according to Orff, this is a Vertonung ("musical setting") influenced by the Greek tragedy
Oedipus de Tyrann (1959)
Ludus de Nato Infante Mirificus (1960)
Ein Sommernachtstraum (A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1964)
De Temporum Fine Comoedia (1973)
Several of Carl Orff's works are influences of the Greek tragedies. As with Orff's "Carmina Burana," his Antigonae became a success as well. Critics and dramatists commend Orff's works and his genius continued in his creation of the Oedipus.
Another work that made Carl Orff a well-known personality in music is his Orff Schulwerk. The Langley Schools of Projects defines Orff Schulwerk as the following.
Orff Schulwerk -- literally, "school work," but more specifically a focus on creative, educational activity through speech, music and movement. The Schulwerk also promotes cooperation and teamwork -- students are encouraged to listen to each other, to hear what their neighbor is playing, and to be conscious of the ensemble sound.
The last masterpiece of Carl Orff was De Temporum Fine Comoedia ("The Comedy About the End of Time," 1973), a play that highlights Orff's view of the end of time (Wikipedia, 2003).
This play premiered in Salzburg Music Festival and was performed by Herbert von Karajan and the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (Wikipedia, 2003). At the age of 86, Carl Orff died on March 21, 1982. His body was laid to rest in Schmerzhafte Chapel, a monastery church in Andechs (www.orff.de).
Orff's "Carmina Burana"
Carmina Burana," or "Songs of Benedikbeuern," is a cantata that was derived from a manuscript Carl Orff had found in the Monastery of Benedikbeuern. The symbol of "Carmina Burana" is a wheel that represents richness and fortune. Also, it is a symbol of good luck and bad luck as the wheel turns.
The "Carmina Burana" of Orff includes songs of drinking, food, love, and happiness, which are based from the old manuscript. It was first performed by the Frankfurt Opera in Stadtische Buhnen, Frankfurt on June 8, 1937.
Orff, perhaps, intended "Carmina Burana" for a full theater performance with movements, words, and music as essential components. This was a style in which the inspiration had been taken from the cultural traditions of the classical Greek tragedy and Italian Baroque musical theatre (Charles Cave, How Would You Describe Carmina Burana?)
Following is the text of O. Fortuna, the most well-known opening part of "Carmina Burana."
Fortuna velut luna statu variabilis, semper crescis aut decrescis; vita detestabilis nunc obdurat et tunc curat ludo mentis aciem, egestatem, potestatem dissolvit ut glaciem.
Sors immanis et inanis, rota tu volubilis, status malus, vana salus semper dissolubilis, obumbrata et velata michi quoque niteris; nunc per ludum dorsum nudum fero tui sceleris.
Sors salutis et virtutis michi nunc contraria, est affectus et defectus semper in angaria.
Hac in hora sine mora corde pulsum tangite; quod per sortem sternit fortem, mecum omnes plangite!
Fortune like the moon you are changeable, ever waxing and waning; hateful life first oppresses and then soothes as fancy takes it; poverty and power it melts them like ice.
Fate - monstrous and empty, you whirling wheel, you are malevolent, well-being is vain and always fades to nothing, shadowed and veiled you plague me too; now through the game bring my bare back to your villainy.
Fate is against me in health and virtue, driven on and weighted down, always enslaved.
So at this hour without delay pluck the vibrating strings;
since Fate strikes down the string man, everyone weep with me!
Fortuna, in the lyric, was a goddess of the Romans and the Greeks who was represented by attributes such as a rudder, a ball, and with Plutus. With a rudder, Fortuna represents a divine guide of the world. With a ball, she illustrates good and bad luck as components of fortune. With Plutus, she represents gifts of fortune (Cave, Fortuna). Fortuna became famous because of its simplicity in harmony. It is the classical type of music that is serious, providing emotions to listeners.
Today's Orff's Music for Children
The Schulwerk aims to bring the child to him - or herself, it aims to awaken fantasy. This builds the character, it creates humanity. I don't do this to shape children for musical education, but rather to create individuals."
Karl Orff believed that every child has a talent for music. Hence, his Schulwerk is a pedagogical compilation of music for children. Together with his friend Gunild Keetman, they published the first issue of Music for Children in 1950. Music for Children contains…