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Carmina Burana
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Carmina Burana

The Carmina Burana is a collection of thirteenth century student songs and poetry, mostly in Latin, and some in Old High German. Poems from the collection were made into a famous cantata by Carl Orff.

Table of contents
1 The poems
2 The music
3 External links

The poems

The original Carmina Burana is a manuscript collection of over 1000 poems and songs, dated to approximately 1230. The manuscript is now in the care of the Bibliotheca Augustana at the University of Augsburg, Germany.

Most of the poems and songs appear to be the work of wandering students and clergy. Most are in Latin; a few are in a dialect of High German, and some mix the two languages.

Many of the poems appear to be products of the Goliardic movement; the collection preserves the works of a number of poets, including Peter of Blois and Walter of Châtillon;, and one anonymous writer who has been given the name of the Archpoet.

It is divided into 6 sections:

The music

Selections from the medieval Carmina Burana were made into a piece of classical music created by Carl Orff; this was first performed in Frankfurt by the Frankfurt Opera on June 8, 1937. The title of the piece also refers to Johann Andreas Schmeller's 1847 compilation of an early 13th century manuscript from a Benedictine abbey in the area of Bavaria. The name means 'songs of Beuren,' though it has since been discovered that the manuscript did not originate there, and instead it is believed that it may have come from Seckau.

The language of the poetry is both Latin and Middle High German, and portions had music notation accompanying it, although Carl Orff did not use the original musical direction in his work.

After the premiere, the piece spread rapidly to other opera houses and concert halls and has now become world famous.

A description of the work tends to be difficult as it combines a mix of percussion with tunefulness and choral accompaniment that is unusual. Other descriptions emphasize the pagan nature of the music, and even physical effects on the listeners.

The lyrics of the poems cover a wide range of hedonism, from drinking songs, to love lyrics, gambling, gluttony, lust and sex.

In many modern CDs mention is made of the paradox of innocent sounding boy's choirs singing some of the more lascivious pieces.

The music has been used in modern times in a wide variety of commercials, in the films "Excalibur" and "The Doors", along with numerous movie trailers. It has also been used in Enigma's Screen Behind the Mirror CD. The section of the work that is most often used and recognized is O Fortuna.

External links

The lyrics used by Orff, along with an English translation, are reproduced at:

Parts of the music can be listened to at most online stores. Here is one of only a wide variety of recordings:

For more information and music, see also [1]