MUSI 2730 002
June 22, 2012
A work that many have, at least heard a piece, of is Carmina Burana. Carl Orff composed this piece of music in 1936. A German, he was one of few composers that continued work during the Anti-Semitic rule of the country. Orff based his work off of a collection of poems found at the monastery of Benedikbeuren that dates back to the Twelfth Century! Carmina Burana is a set of twenty-five pieces that concern many of things going in everyone’s life today. Drinking, gambling, love, sex, fate, and fortune are just a few of the topics Orff composed of.1 In this concert report I will go through the pieces that stood out the most to me. As mentioned, the most famous piece of this work is the opening sequence, “O Fortuna”.
This glamorous piece begins with the full orchestra and chorus playing a loud, brave tone that quickly drops off into, what I hear as a loud whisper, sung by the entire chorus. Orff doesn’t let the listener take a break by coming back with same loud tone that the piece began with. Percussion instruments can be vividly heard throughout this opening piece, seemingly above the rest of the instruments. Early in this work, Orff establishes his theme of a “Wheel of Fortune”.2 With the boldness of the opening sounds I feel that Orff is setting the tone for the whole work. Although the work is sung entirely in Latin, the translation of the first movement may surprise most people. The opening words “O Fortune” gives the listener an idea what the piece is about. As the piece goes, Orff describes fortune as oppressing and poor, in what I believe he was feeling at the time. The last words of this movement, in translation “ everyone weep with me “ were the biggest surprise to me because the orchestra ends the piece in carnival like melody.
The second movement of Orff’s work is titled “Fortune plango vulnera“. This is personally my favorite piece of the work because of the hit or miss...