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Carl Orff

(1895 - 1982)

Orff was born in Munich, Germany on July 10th, 1895 and came from a Bavarian family that was very active in the German military.

His father's regimental band supposedly had often played the compositions of young Orff. Orff studied studied piano and cello while still a young boy.

Later he studied at the Munich Academy of Music, graduating in 1914.

He then served in the military during World War I.

Afterwards, he held various positions at opera houses in Mannheim and Darmstadt and in 1919 he returned to Munich to pursue further his music studies.

In 1924, he founded the Guntherschule for music and dance dedicating himself to making musical performance accessible to children.

Orff became conductor of the Munich Bach society in 1930, a position he held until 1933

The best known of all Orff's works is the Carmina Burana, a large scale work making use of the medieval Latin and Old German lyrics found at the monastery of Benediktbeuern.

The work has become even more familiar to unmusical audiences by use of elements from it in advertising and in films.

Carmina Burana is generally performed only as a form of secular oratorio, in the concert- hall, rather than on the stage, as is Catulli carmina (Songs of Catullus), again intended for theatrical use.

Orff believed that the profound appeal of music is not merely physical.

This belief is reflected by many other works, including musical dramas based on Greek tragedies, namely, Antigonae (1949), Oedipus der Tyrann (1959), and Prometheus (1966).

These works, as well as some compositions on Christian themes, followed the composer's established dramatic and compositional techniques, but failed to repeat the tremendous success of Carmina Burana.

His last work, De Temporum Fine Comoedia (A Comedy About the End of Time) premiered at the 1973 Salzburg Festival, Nine years later.

Carl Orff died in Munich, March 29th, 1982, where he had spent his entire life.


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