Carmina Burana

From Academic Kids

The name Carmina Burana refers both to

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From the 11th-13th Century Carmina Burana, a collection of love and vagabond songs.

The manuscript

The original Carmina Burana is the manuscript collection, now in the Bavarian State Library in Munich, of over 1000 poems and songs written by the early 13th century. Johann Andreas Schmeller assigned it that title (meaning "Songs of Beuern") in 1847 when he compiled it at the Benedictine abbey of Benediktbeuern in Bavaria. Subsequent research has shown that the manuscript did not originate there; Seckau is regarded as a likely earlier location.

The pieces, mostly in Latin, with a few in a dialect of Middle High German, and some mixing the two languages, were written by students and clergy at around 1230. Most of the poems and songs appear to be the work of Goliards, clergy (mostly students) who lampooned and satirized the Church. The collection preserves the works of a number of poets, including Peter of Blois, Walter of Châtillon, and the anonymous one referred to as the Archpoet.

Some of the songs are accompanied by neumes that at least suggest the melodies, and performances of reconstructions from them have been recorded.

The collection is divided into 6 sections:

  • Carmina ecclesiastica
  • Carmina moralia et satirica
  • Carmina amatoria
  • Carmina potoria
  • Ludi
  • Supplementum

The modern music

Selections from the medieval Carmina Burana were set to music by Carl Orff as a work, of the same name, for large orchestra, chorus, and solo vocalists. Orff chose to compose anew, even though the original manuscript contained musical settings of some of the poems. The languages of the work are Latin and Middle High German.

Carmina Burana is probably the most famous piece of music composed in Nazi Germany. This work, described as a "scenic cantata", was first performed in Frankfurt by the Frankfurt Opera on June 8, 1937, and the performance was repeated elsewhere; the fame of the work was such that Orff was quickly commissioned to write other works. While initially condemned by local critics as entartet ("degenerate", see Degenerate music), the work was later enthusiastically embraced by the Nazi regime as a celebration of early "Aryan" culture. After the war the popularity of the work continued to rise, and by the 1960s Carmina Burana was well established as part of the international classic repertory and was performed in 1966 in Israel.

The work mixes highly rhythmic and percussive passages with tuneful sections. Some portions are purely instrumental, others are for solo voice with accompaniment, and others are for the full ensemble of massed chorus and orchestra: especially effective are the bracketing O Fortuna sections which open and close the long cantata. Some of the descriptions emphasize the pagan nature of the music, and even mention physical effects on the listeners.

The lyrics of the poems cover a wide range of secular topics, as familiar in the 13th century as they are today: the fickleness of fortune, the ephemeral nature of life, the joy of the return of spring, and the pleasures of drinking, gluttony, gambling and lust.

In many modern CDs mention is made of the paradox of having the innocent voices of boys singing some of the more lascivious pieces.

Excerpts, especially the opening and finale number O Fortuna, have been widely used in numerous movie trailers and in various other commercials. Portions also appear as background music in the films "Excalibur" and "The Doors", and sampled in the CD The Screen Behind the Mirror by Enigma, by Ministry in their song No W and by Apoptygma Berzerk in their song "Love Never Dies".

Other musical settings of these texts include:

  • the final battle music for the video game Final Fantasy VII, which uses snippets of the text of "O Fortuna", "Estuans interius", and "Veni, veni, venias".

External links

fr:Carmina Burana la:Carmina Burana nl:Carmina Burana ja:カルミナ・ブラーナ pl:Carmina Burana sv:Carmina Burana zh:布兰诗歌


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