Cantiones profanae cantoribus et cantandae
comitantibus instrumentis atque imaginibus magicis.
Secular songs for soloist and chorus
with accompanying instruments and magic tableux.
Carmina Burana (lit. "The Songs of Beuren") is a piece of choral music (a cantata) by Carl Orff. It was first performed in 1937. It requires a full orchestra, with a large percussion section, piano, double choir, and soloists. The music is divided into movements as follows. For information about the music and what it sounds like, see the writeups linked from this listing.
- Part I
- Primo Vere- "Veris leta facies", "Omnia sol temperat" and "Ecce Gratum".
- Uf Dem Anger- "Tanz", "Floret Silva Nobilis", "Chramer, gip die varwe mir", "Reie" and "Were diu werlt alle min".
- Part II
- In Taberna- "Estuans Interius", "Olim Lacus Colueram", "Ego Sum Abbas" and "In Taberna Quando Sumus".
- Part III
- Cour D'Amours- "Amor Volat Undique", "Dies, Nox Et Omnia", "Stetit Puella", "Circa Mea Pectora", "Si Puer Cum Puellula", "Veni, Veni, Venias", "In Trutina", "Tempes est Locundum" and "Dulcissimi"
- Blanziflor et Helena- "Ave Formosissima" and "O Fortuna" (again).
The texts of each song come from a collection of 13th century Latin and Middle High German poems which were found two-hundred years ago at the Benediktbeuern monastery in Bavaria. The poems were published under the name "Carmina Burana" in 1847 by Johann Andreas Schmeller; however it is now thought likely that the original documents were written in Seckau. There are two-hundred and fifty or-so poems, which form the most significant source of the secular Latin poetry of the Goliards.
The Goliards were a band of educated, highly literate chancers who wandered 12th and 13th century Europe. Most were former members of religious orders, who broke free of the constraints of monastic life and launched themselves into a more hedonistic lifestyle. They would drift from town to town, teaching the locals irreligious versions of Latin hymns, gambling, whoring and drinking. The poems of Carmina Burana are accounts of their hopes and aspirations, their fears and their reflections on the life of a rebel monk.
It is therefore interesting to note that the composer of the 20th century music, "Carmina Burana", Carl Orff (1895-1982), was a devout Catholic. He was born into a military family, and worked as a music teacher in Munich. Although he has written many pieces, some superficially similar to "Carmina Burana", none have become as well known or are as oft-performed. He even wrote two other pieces to form a trilogy, "Trionfi"- "Catulli Carmina" ("Songs of Catullus", 1943) and “Trionfo di Afrodite” ("The Triumph of Aphrodite", 1951).
Today, "Carmina Burana" is performed as any other cantata would be. A double choir stands behind an orchestra, with soloists at the front and the conductor between them and the audience. However, Orff wrote the piece as the musical portion of a "Total Theatre" production. Elaborate staging, costumes, lighting, gymnastic displays and dance were all part of his vision for the performances. Early productions featured huge burning swans, wheels of fortune, dancing rabbles and other displays, all worked into a cohesive artwork with the music.
- http://www.ozemail.com.au/~caveman/Carmina/ (now defunct)