kids encyclopedia robot

Carl Orff facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Carl Orff
Carl Orff um 1970.jpg
Carl Orff, c. 1970
Born (1895-07-10)10 July 1895
Munich, Kingdom of Bavaria, German Empire
Died 29 March 1982(1982-03-29) (aged 86)
Munich, West Germany
List of compositions

Carl Heinrich Maria Orff (German: [ɔʁf]; 10 July 1895 – 29 March 1982) was a German composer and music educator, best known for his cantata Carmina Burana (1937). The concepts of his Schulwerk were influential for children's music education.


Early life

Carl Orff (full name Karl Heinrich Maria Orff) was born in Munich on 10 July 1895, the son of Paula Orff (née Köstler, 1872–1960) and Heinrich Orff (1869–1949). His family was Bavarian and was active in the Imperial German Army; his father was an army officer with strong musical interests, and his mother was a trained pianist. The composer's grandfathers, Carl von Orff (1828–1905) and Karl Köstler (1837–1924), were both major generals and also scholars. His paternal grandmother, Fanny Orff (née Kraft, 1833–1919), was Catholic of Jewish descent. His maternal grandmother was Maria Köstler (née Aschenbrenner, 1845–1906). Orff had one sibling, a younger sister named Maria ("Mia", 1898–1975), who married the architect Alwin Seifert (1890–1972) in 1924.

Despite his family's military background, Orff recalled in 1970: "In my father's house there was certainly more music making than drilling." At age five, he began to play piano, and later studied cello and organ. He composed a few songs and music for puppet plays. He had two vignettes published in July 1905 in Das gute Kind, the children's supplement to Die katholische Familie. He began attending concerts in 1903 and heard his first opera (Richard Wagner's The Flying Dutchman) in 1909. The formative concerts he attended included the world premiere of Gustav Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde in 1911 and Richard Strauss conducting his opera Elektra on 4 June 1914.

In 1910–12, Orff wrote several dozen Lieder on texts by German poets, including the song set Frühlingslieder (Opus 1, text by Ludwig Uhland) and the song cycle Eliland: Ein Sang von Chiemsee (Opus 12, text by Karl Stieler). The poet whose work he most frequently used was Heinrich Heine; he also chose texts of Walther von der Vogelweide, Princess Mathilde of Bavaria (1877–1906), Friedrich Hölderlin, Ludwig August Frankl, Hermann Lingg, Rudolf Baumbach, Richard Beer-Hofmann, and Börries von Münchhausen, among others. Orff's songs fell into the style of Richard Strauss and other German composers of the day, but with hints of what would become Orff's distinctive musical language. Some of his songs were published in 1912. These include Eliland, with a dedication to Karl Köstler, who funded the publication. In 1911–12, Orff wrote Zarathustra (Opus 14), a large work for baritone voice, three tenor-bass choruses, winds, percussion, harps, pianos, and organ, based on a passage from Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophical novel Also sprach Zarathustra.

Orff studied at the Munich Academy of Music from 1912 until 1914. Orff later wrote that his decision to pursue music studies instead of completing Gymnasium was the source of family strife, as the Orff patriarch (his father's older brother, also named Karl Orff, 1863–1942) was against the idea. Orff had the support of his mother, who persuaded his father, and of his grandfather Köstler. Orff's teacher at the Akademie was the composer Anton Beer-Walbrunn, of whom he later wrote with respect but said that he found the academy overall to be "conservative and old-fashioned" (konservativ und altväterlich). At this time, he studied the works of Arnold Schoenberg, and one of his most important influences at this time was the French composer Claude Debussy. These influences can be heard in his first stage work, the music drama Gisei: Das Opfer (Gisei: The Sacrifice, Opus 20), written in 1913 but not performed until 2010. Orff's source material is a German translation of part of Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami, specifically "Terakoya" ("The Village School") in Act IV. In 1914 Orff wrote Tanzende Faune: Ein Orchesterspiel (Opus 21). The work was to be performed at the Akademie—his first performance by an orchestra—but conductor Eberhard Schwickerath [de] removed it from the program following an unsuccessful rehearsal; it was first performed in 1995. In 1915, he began studying piano with Hermann Zilcher. Writing to his father, he called the studies with Zilcher his most productive teacher relationship to date. Around this time he also came to know theater director Otto Falckenberg, and saw plays by August Strindberg and Frank Wedekind.

World War I

Orff was forced into in the German Army in August 1917, which was a great crisis for him.

The coming fall, he was severely injured and nearly killed when a trench caved in, suffering amnesia, aphasia, and paralysis of his left-side. After Orff's death, his daughter wrote that she believed this experience "made him think and rebel yet more revolutionarily."

Weimar Republic

After recovering from his battle injuries, Orff held various positions at opera houses in Mannheim and Darmstadt, later returning to Munich to pursue his music studies. Around 1920, Orff was drawn to the poetry of Franz Werfel, which became the basis for numerous Lieder and choral compositions. In the mid-1920s, he began to formulate a concept he called elementare Musik, or elemental music, which was based on the unity of the arts symbolized by the ancient Greek Muses, and involved tone, dance, poetry, image, design, and theatrical gesture. Like many other composers of the time, he was influenced by the Russian-French émigré Igor Stravinsky. But while others followed the cool, balanced neoclassic works of Stravinsky, it was works such as Les noces (The Wedding), an earthy, quasi-folkloric depiction of Russian peasant wedding rites, that appealed to Orff.

Orff came to know the work of Bertolt Brecht in 1924, which had a profound influence on him. The same year, he and Dorothee Günther [de] founded the Günther-Schule for gymnastics, music, and dance in Munich. He developed his theories of music education, having constant contact with children and working with musical beginners. In 1930, Orff published a manual titled Schulwerk, in which he shares his method of conducting. He was involved with the Schulwerk and its associated institutions throughout his life, although he retired from the Günther-Schule in 1938.

Orff also began adapting musical works of earlier eras for contemporary theatrical presentation, including Claudio Monteverdi and Alessandro Striggio's opera L'Orfeo (1607). Orff's shortened German version (with Günther's translation), Orpheus, was staged under his direction in 1925 in Mannheim, using some of the instruments that had been used in the original 1607 performance, although several of these were unavailable and had to be replaced. Orff revised the score a few years later; this version was first performed in Munich in 1929. Orff's adaptations of early music brought him very little money. The passionately declaimed opera of Monteverdi's era was almost unknown in the 1920s, and Orff's production met with reactions ranging from incomprehension to ridicule.

Nazi Era

Beginning of the Third Reich

Carl Orff by Hans Holdt, 1940
Orff in 1940

Orff's relationship with German National Socialism and the Nazi Party has been a matter of considerable debate and analysis, sometimes colored by misinformation. Historian Michael H. Kater, whose work is critical of Orff, nevertheless wrote that "Carl Orff's name to many has become synonymous with fascist art and culture, frequently by way of a rather cavalier prejudgment."

Orff never joined the Party, nor did he have any leadership position with the Third Reich. He was a member of the Reichsmusikkammer, which was required of active musicians in the Third Reich.

Several of Orff's friends and associates went into exile between 1933 and 1939, including Sachs and Leo Kestenberg, the latter of whom was an advocate for his Schulwerk. Orff reconnected with several of these exiled colleagues after the war and in some cases maintained lifelong friendships, as with singer and composer Karel Salmon [de], who emigrated within the first few months of the Nazi takeover. Another such figure is the art historian Albin von Prybram-Gladona (1890–1974), whose parents had converted from Judaism before his birth and who survived multiple incarcerations in concentration camps after he fled to France. Prybram-Gladona testified to Orff's character during the denazification process. Another important friend to Orff was the German-Jewish musicologist and composer Erich Katz (1900–1973), who fled in 1939 after temporary incarceration in Dachau. Orff reestablished contact with Katz in 1952, and Katz considered Orff a valued friend. Orff wrote a tribute upon Katz's death in the form of a letter addressed to the deceased.

Carmina Burana

Orff's most famous work, Carmina Burana, had its premiere in Frankfurt on 8 June 1937. It became highly popular in Nazi Germany in the coming years. Michael H. Kater has written that "by 1945" it "[stood] out as the single universally important work produced during the entire span of the Third Reich". Oliver Rathkolb, however, has noted that subsequent popular perception has exaggerated the degree of its importance to the culture of the Third Reich, as numerous other works received more stagings. Given Orff's previous lack of commercial success, the monetary gains from Carmina Burana's acclaim, including a 500 RM award from the city of Frankfurt, were significant to him but the composition, with its unfamiliar rhythms, was also denounced with racist taunts.

Ein Sommernachtstraum

Orff was one of numerous German composers under the Nazi regime who wrote new incidental music for William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream—in German Ein Sommernachtstraum—after the music of Felix Mendelssohn for that play had been banned. Orff's version was first performed on 14 October 1939 in Frankfurt as the result of a commission through that city. By his report, he had already composed music for the play as early as 1917 and 1927, long before the Frankfurt commission; no materials from these earlier (presumably incomplete) versions are extant. Orff's publisher had serious reservations about the project, and Orff's commission was unable to make the original deadline of the commission, resulting in the reduction of his payment from 5,000 RM to 3,000 RM. He later called the 1939 iteration "a compromised (unfortunately printed) version. In place of the small onstage ensemble there was again a normal small opera orchestra, no more magical percussion, all inexcusable concessions." The composer's discontentment, together with his initial difficulties in composition, sometimes has been interpreted at least in part due to pangs of conscience. Thomas Rösch has written of this project: "The autonomy of art, which Orff always held highly, was only more illusion within the dictatorship – and the insistence of the composer on a purely artistic, aesthetic viewpoint inevitably changed under this condition to a momentous error."

Orff went on to rework his Ein Sommernachtstraum score three times. The next version was to have its premiere on 10 September 1944, but the closure of all theaters in dire wartime conditions prevented it from occurring. In December 1945, Orff expressed hope for a performance in Stuttgart, but when Gottfried von Einem asked him in 1946 about a premiere of this version at the Salzburg Festival, he demurred and responded defensively when Einem asked if the work had been a commission from the Third Reich. Orff made further revisions still, and this version was first performed on 30 October 1952 in Darmstadt. It also had an American performance by Leopold Stokowski at the Empire State Music Festival on 19 July 1956. Orff revised the score yet again in 1962; this final version had its first performance on in Stuttgart on 12 March 1964.

Relationship with Kurt Huber

Orff was a friend of Kurt Huber (1893–1943), a professor at Ludwig Maximilian University, with whom he worked since 1934 on Bavarian folk music. Together with Orff's Schulwerk associate Hans Bergese (1910–2000); they published two volumes of folk music as Musik der Landschaft: Volksmusik in neuen Sätzen in 1942.

In December 1942, Huber became a member of the student resistance movement Weiße Rose (the White Rose). He was arrested on 27 February 1943, condemned to death by the Volksgerichtshof, and executed by the Nazis on 13 July 1943. By happenstance, Orff called at Huber's house on the day after his arrest. Huber's distraught wife, Clara (née Schlickenrieder, 1908–1998), hoped Orff would use his influence to help her husband, but Orff panicked upon learning of Kurt Huber's arrest, fearing that he was "ruined" (ruiniert). Clara Huber later said she never saw Orff again, but there is documentary evidence that they had further contact. On at least one occasion, she recalled that Orff had attempted to help her husband through Baldur von Schirach (the highest ranking Nazi official with whom he came into contact, and whom he met at least twice); there is no corroboration for this. In June 1949, Orff transferred his rights to Musik der Landschaft to Huber's family. Shortly after the war, Clara Huber asked Orff to contribute to a memorial volume for her husband; he contributed an emotional letter written directly to Kurt Huber, similar to what he did for Katz years later. Orff's Die Bernauerin, a project which he completed in 1946 and which he had discussed with Huber before the latter's execution, is dedicated to Huber's memory. The final scene of this work, which is about the wrongful execution of Agnes Bernauer, depicts a guilt-ridden chorus begging not to be implicated in the title character's death.


In late March 1946, Orff underwent a denazification process in Bad Homburg at a psychological screening center of the Information Control Division (ICD), a department of the Office of Military Government, United States (OMGUS). Orff was rated "Grey C, acceptable", which his evaluator Dr. Bertram Schaffner (1912–2010) defined as for those "compromised by their actions during the Nazi period but not subscribers to Nazi doctrine".

Some sources report that Orff had been blacklisted prior to the evaluation, which would have prevented him from collecting royalties on his compositions. According to more recent research by Oliver Rathkolb, there is no evidence to support this. In January 1946, American officer Newell Jenkins (1915–1996)—Orff's former student (with whom he was on a du basis), who went on to have a career as a conductor—informed him that he did not need a license as a composer if he was not seeking to conduct, teach, or otherwise appear in public. Jenkins, however, hoped that Orff would take an Intendant position in Stuttgart, which Orff was considering after initially saying no. This would require evaluation, and thus Jenkins encouraged Orff to think of how he could prove that he had actively resisted Nazism, as such persons were most highly valued. Orff turned down the Stuttgart position by early March 1946, but Jenkins still insisted Orff undergo an evaluation at the end of that month. Schaffner's report notes: "Orff does not wish a license as 'Intendant' of an opera-house, and states that he has already refused such an offer, because the work would be primarily administrative and not musical. He wishes to have permission to appear as guest-conductor." Orff was granted a license without any restrictions despite his rating of "'Grey C', acceptable", but there is no evidence that he conducted in public after the war.

Schaffner believed that the root causes of Nazism included an underlying societal rigidity and authoritarianism in Germany, especially as they pertained to fathers in family life and institutions such as the school and the military. His theories informed his and his colleagues' denazification evaluations.

There is no evidence that Orff ever was reclassified, but since his license had no restrictions, this was not necessary.

Some scholars have maintained that Orff successfully deceived his evaluators to some degree. The counterpoint is that Orff misrepresented himself in some instances, but the Americans had enough information to assess him fundamentally correctly and rate him accordingly. The report notes salient facts, if not necessarily with complete information, regarding some of Orff's financial support from the cities of Frankfurt and Vienna, his participation in the 1936 Summer Olympics, and the music for A Midsummer Night's Dream (although the number of its performances was undercounted), which Orff said he wrote "from his own private musical point of view" but "admit[ted] that he chose an unfortunate moment in history to write it."

Orff said "that he never got a favorable review by a Nazi music critic"; however, his work had been enthusiastically received by audiences and many critics, although by no means exclusively so. He also said that "[h]is great success" was in 1942 with a performance of Carmina Burana in La Scala in Milan, "not under the auspices of the Propaganda Ministry." In fact, Orff later publicly characterized the second staging of Carmina Burana, which took place in Dresden on 4 October 1940, as the beginning of his great success. The American evaluators disbelieved Orff's account of his reception in the Third Reich: "The fact that he was deferred ... during the war is contradictory to his claim that he was not well thought of at the Propaganda Ministry. ... He does not give a very good [e]xplanation." The report likewise notes Orff's very sharp rise in income in the latter part of the Third Reich.

Surprisingly absent from the report are several factors that Orff could have used in his favor, notably his associations with Jewish colleagues as well as his own partly Jewish ancestry, the latter of which was never publicly known while he was alive. Nor is there any mention of the potentially subversive and anti-authoritarian texts in his works, notably the passages in Die Kluge (premiere 1943) that have been identified as such, sometimes even during Orff's lifetime (including by Carl Dahlhaus).

Personal life

Carl Orff was very guarded as to his personal life. When asked by the theater scholar Carl Niessen [de] to provide a handwritten entry for a collection of autobiographies of German composers of the day, for which some of his colleagues wrote as many as three pages, he sent only: "Carl Orff[,] born 1895 in Munich[,] living there" (Carl Orff[,] geboren 1895 in München[,] lebt daselbst).

Orff was married four times and had three divorces. His first marriage was in 1920 to the singer Alice Solscher (1891–1970). Orff's only child, Godela Orff (later Orff-Büchtemann, 1921–2013) was born 21 February 1921. The couple separated about sixth months after Godela's birth and were divorced officially in 1927. Godela remained with her father when her mother moved to Melbourne to pursue her career around 1930. In 1939, Orff married Gertrud Willert [de] (1914–2000), who had been his student and who founded a method of music therapy using the Orff-Schulwerk; they divorced in 1953. By 1952, he began a relationship with author Luise Rinser (1911–2002), whom he married in 1954. In 1955, they moved from Munich to Dießen am Ammersee. Their marriage was troubled and ended in divorce in 1959, by which time Orff was living with the person who would become his next wife. Orff's final marriage, which lasted to the end of his life, was with Liselotte Schmitz (1930–2012), who had been his secretary, and who after his death carried on his legacy in her capacity with the Carl-Orff Stiftung. They married in Andechs on 10 May 1960.

Born to devout Roman Catholic parents, Orff broke from religious dogma at a young age. His daughter reported that he did not have her baptized. Gertrud Orff said that "he never went to church; to the contrary. It was probably the time of inner rebellion against things like that. ... He was a religious person, yes. But not a person of the church." Nevertheless, he wanted to be buried in the Baroque church of the beer-brewing Benedictine priory of Andechs, southwest of Munich; he could see this monastery from his home in Diessen.

Orff had no desire to follow in his family's military tradition, even as a child. He later wrote: "My father [Heinrich Orff] knew that everything soldierly lay far from me and that I could not warm up to it." According to Godela Orff, the composer's parents "nevertheless always remained lovingly inclined toward him, even when his way of life did not meet their expectations", and Orff and his sister "were watched over and supported with loving tolerance." She also wrote that her father's mother, Paula Orff, always fostered her son's creativity and gave him "the gift of inspiration." Orff himself wrote of his mother: "From time immemorial I was a real mother's boy. In life's serious and most difficult situations she understood me deeply with her heart, even if her ideas, strongly set in tradition, stood in the way of it." Paula Orff died on 22 July 1960, after which Orff's colleague Karl Amadeus Hartmann wrote to him: "I know how intimately bonded you were with your mother, similar to me with mine, and can therefore especially sympathize with the entire gravity of the loss."

Godela Orff described her relationship with her father as having been difficult at times. "He had his life and that was that", she tells Tony Palmer in the documentary O Fortuna. Their relationship became especially strained in the late 1940s; they reconciled around the early 1970s.


Orff Andechs
Orff's grave at the Andechs Abbey church

Orff died of cancer in Munich on 29 March 1982, at the age of 86. He is buried in the Andechs monastery. His tombstone bears the Latin inscription Summus Finis (the Ultimate End), taken from the end of his last work, De temporum fine comoedia.


Carmina Burana

Orff is best known for Carmina Burana (1936), a "scenic cantata". It is the first part of a trilogy that also includes Catulli Carmina and Trionfo di Afrodite. Carmina Burana reflects his interest in medieval German poetry. The trilogy as a whole is called Trionfi, or "Triumphs". The work is based on thirteenth-century poetry found in a manuscript dubbed the Codex latinus monacensis found in the Benedictine monastery of Benediktbeuern in 1803 and written by the Goliards; this collection is also known as Carmina Burana. While "modern" in some of his compositional techniques, Orff was able to capture the spirit of the medieval period in this trilogy. The medieval poems, written in Latin and an early form of German, are a lament about the cruel indifference of fate (the brief opening and closing sections of Orff's work are titled "Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi", i.e., "Fortune, Ruler of the World"). The chorus that opens and concludes Carmina Burana, "O Fortuna", is often used to denote primal forces, for example in the Oliver Stone film The Doors. The work's association with fascism also led Pier Paolo Pasolini to use the movement "Veris leta facies" to accompany the concluding scenes in his final film Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom. Pasolini was concerned with the question of art being appropriated by power when he made the film, which has relevance to Orff's situation.

Relationship to pre-Carmina Burana works

Orff often said that, following a dress rehearsal for Carmina Burana, he told his publisher the following: "Everything that I have written up until now and that you unfortunately have printed you now can pulp. With Carmina Burana begins my collected works." Michael H. Kater has called this statement into question, citing a lack of documentary evidence and the continuation of performances of Orff's previous works after the premiere of Carmina Burana, although in fact most of these performances used revised versions. Orff eventually qualified his oft-repeated statement: "So I had said this thoughtlessly, con leggerezza [i.e. "lightly"]: a remark that, as I well knew, was true and also not true. I only wanted to accentuate with it the meaning that the Carmina Burana held in my creations up to that point, as was clear to me myself." When asked about this "famous quotation" (berühmtes Zitat) in 1975, Orff replied: "For the first time I had done exactly what I wanted, and I also knew that I had treated it right. Really there is nothing more to say." Orff went on to revise many of his earlier works, and later in his career he reissued some of his pre-Carmina Burana compositions with minimal revisions. One of his final publications was a volume of songs he had composed between 1911 and 1920.

After World War II

Most of Orff's later works – Antigonae (1949), Oedipus der Tyrann [de] (Oedipus the Tyrant, 1959), Prometheus desmotes (Prometheus Bound, 1968), and De temporum fine comoedia (Play on the End of Times, 1973) – were based on texts or topics from antiquity. They extend the language of Carmina Burana in interesting ways, but they are expensive to stage and (on Orff's own characterization) are not operas in the conventional sense. Live performances of them have been few, even in Germany.

In a letter dated 8 January 1947 to his student Heinrich Sutermeister, Orff called Die Bernauerin "the last piece in the series of my earlier work; Antigonae starts a new phase." Antigonae is a setting of Friedrich Hölderlin's translation of the play by Sophocles. Orff first became interested in this source material shortly after his trauma in World War I and began planning his work late in 1940. The premiere took place on 9 August 1949 at the Salzburg Festival. Orff followed Antigonae with Oedipus der Tyrann, also using Hölderlin's translation of Sophocles's play, and Prometheus, using the original language of the Greek play attributed to Aeschylus. Their premieres took place in Stuttgart, respectively in 1959 and 1968, conducted by Ferdinand Leitner. All three of the Greek tragedies make no cuts or alterations to the texts.

The Greek tragedies are scored for highly unusual ensembles centered on large percussion ensembles, which include non-Western instruments and numerous mallet instruments (including lithophone), and several pianos (four in Prometheus and six in the other two); the traditional string section is dispensed with excepting nine contrabasses. They also have six flutes and six oboes (with various auxiliary doublings of piccolo, alto flute, and English horn), as well as trumpets (six in Antigonae and Prometheus; eight in Oedipus der Tyrann, behind the scene). Oedipus der Tyrann and Prometheus also have six trombones and organ. All three works also have four harps; there is additionally mandolin in Oedipus der Tyrann and four tenor banjos in Prometheus.

Orff's final work for the stage, De temporum fine comoedia (Play on the End of Times), had its premiere at the Salzburg Festival on 20 August 1973, performed by Herbert von Karajan and the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne and Chorus. It is has a large cast and similar scoring to the Greek tragedies with some exceptions, notably clarinetists (all with E-flat clarinets) instead of oboists and the addition of contrabassoon, horns, and tuba. Thomas Rösch has called this work "in many respects the summation of [Orff's] entire work." There is no evidence Orff considered writing another stage work after De temporum fine comoedia, and in 1979 he told an interviewer he was certain it was the end (Schluß) of his composition. In this highly personal work, Orff presented a mystery play, sung in Greek, German, and Latin, in which he summarized his view of the end of time. His philosophy draws from many religious traditions, primarily Origen's idea of apocatastasis. De temporum fine comoedia also makes numerous references to Orff's previous compositions, notably Die Bernauerin. Around the time of the premiere, he said that his works are "as with an onion: one layer follows the others." On the same occasion, he said of De temporum fine comoedia: "It is all a dream, only a fantasy. Pessimistic, optimistic, as anyone wants."

Pedagogic works

Ruhmeshalle Muenchen Carl Orff Komponist-1
Bust of Carl Orff in the Munich Hall of Fame (2009)

In pedagogical circles he is probably best remembered for his Schulwerk ("School Work"). Originally a set of pieces composed and published for the Güntherschule (which had students ranging from 12 to 22), this title was also used for his books based on radio broadcasts in Bavaria in 1949. These pieces are collectively called Musik für Kinder (Music for Children), and also use the term Schulwerk, and were written in collaboration with his former pupil, composer and educator Gunild Keetman (1904–1990), who actually wrote most of the settings and arrangements in the "Musik für Kinder" ("Music for Children") volumes.

Orff's ideas were developed, together with Gunild Keetman, into a very innovative approach to music education for children, known as the Orff Schulwerk. The music is elemental and combines movement, singing, playing, and improvisation.

Gassenhauer, Hexeneinmaleins, and Passion, which Orff composed with Keetman, were used as theme music for Terrence Malick's film Badlands (1973).

List of compositions

Carl Orff's publisher is Schott Music.

I. Concert and Stage Works

Stage works

  • Gisei: Das Opfer, Opus 20, libretto adapted by Orff from Terakoya, a portion of Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami in translation by Karl Florenz [de] (1913, premiere 30 January 2010)
  • Incidental music for Georg Büchner's play Leonce und Lena (1918–19), unpublished and only partially extant (manuscript in Orff-Zentrum München)
  • Lamenti (first performed as cycle on 15 May 1958)
    • Klage der Ariadne, reshaping of the lament from Claudio Monteverdi and Ottavio Rinuccini's L'Arianna, German text by Orff (1925, premiere 16 April 1925; reworked 1940)
    • Orpheus, reshaping of Claudio Monteverdi and Alessandro Striggio's L'Orfeo, German text by Dorothee Günther (1922–1925, premiere 17 April 1925; reworked 1929 and 1940)
    • Tanz der Spröden, reshaping of Monteverdi and Rinuccini's Il ballo delle ingrate, German text by Günther (1925, premiere 28 December 1925; reworked 1940)
  • Trionfi. Trittico teatrale (premiere 14 February 1953)
    • Carmina Burana. Cantiones profanae cantoribus et choris cantandae comitantibus instrumetis atque imaginibus magicis, texts from Carmina Burana codex (1934–1936, premiere 8 June 1937)
    • Catulli Carmina. Ludi scaenici, texts by Orff (Praelusio and Exodium) and Catullus (Actus I–III), incorporating material from Catulli Carmina I choruses (1941–1943, premiere 6 November 1943)
    • Trionfo di Afrodite. Concerto scenico, texts by Sappho, Catullus, and Euripides (1947–1951, premiere 14 February 1953)
  • Märchenstücke (Fairy tales)
    • Der Mond, libretto by Orff after the Brothers Grimm (1936–1938, premiere 5 February 1939; reworked 1940, 1942, 1946, 1957, 1970)
    • Die Kluge, libretto by Orff after the Brothers Grimm (1941–1942, premiere 20 February 1943)
    • Ein Sommernachtstraum, incidental music to play by William Shakespeare in translation by August Wilhelm Schlegel (drafts 1917 and 1927–1928; completed version 1938–1939, premiere 14 October 1939; reworked 1943–44 (unperformed); reworked 1952, premiere 30 October 1952; reworked 1962, premiere of final version 12 March 1964)
  • Bairisches Welttheater (Bavarian world theatre)
    • Die Bernauerin (1944–1946, premiere 15 June 1947)
    • Astutuli [de] (1946–1948, premiere 20 October 1953)
    • Comoedia de Christi Resurrectione (1955, premiere 31 March 1956 on television; stage premiere 21 April 1957) – Easter Play
    • Ludus de nato Infante mirificus [de] (1960, premiere 11 December 1960) – Nativity play
  • Theatrum Mundi
    • Antigonae, setting of Sophocles's play in translation by Friedrich Hölderlin (1940–1949, premiere 9 August 1949)
    • Oedipus der Tyrann [de], setting of Sophocles's play in translation by Hölderlin (1951–58, premiere 11 December 1959)
    • Prometheus, setting of play attributed to Aeschylus in original Greek (1960–67, premiere 24 March 1968)
    • De temporum fine comoedia (1970–71, premiere 20 August 1973; reworked 1979 and 1981)

Vocal works

  • Choral with instruments
    • Zarathustra, Opus 14 for baritone soloist, three tenor-bass choruses, ensemble, and organ on texts of Nietzsche (1911–1912), unpublished (manuscript at Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich), Musiklesesaal, 43 and 44)
    • Treibhauslieder, Traumspiel on texts of Maurice Maeterlinck (1913–14), drafted but score largely destroyed by composer (surviving sketches in Orff-Zentrum München)
    • Des Turmes Auferstehung for tenor-bass chorus, orchestra, and organ on texts by Franz Werfel (1920, premiere 6 December 1995)
    • Werkbuch I – cantatas on texts of Franz Werfel
      • I. Veni creator spiritus for chorus, pianos, and percussion (premiere 7 October 1930; revised 1968)
      • II. Der gute Mensch for chorus, pianos, and percussion (premiere 11 October 1930; revised 1968)
      • III. Fremde sind wir for chorus, violins, and contrabasses; reworked version for chorus and pianos (premiere 10 July 1935; reworked 1968)
    • Werkbuch II – cantatas on texts of Bertolt Brecht for chorus, pianos, and percussion (1930–1931, reworked 1968–1973)
      • I. Von der Freundlichkeit der Welt (first published 1973, premiere 19 March 1979)
      • II. Vom Frühjahr, Öltank, und vom Fliegen (first published 1932, premiere 11 July 1965; revised 1968)
    • Dithyrambi for mixed chorus and instruments on texts of Friedrich Schiller
      • I. Die Sänger der Vorwelt (1955, premiere 3 August 1956; reworked 1981)
      • II. Nänie und Dithyrambe (1956, premiere 4 December 1956; reworked 1981)
    • Rota for children's chorus, mixed chorus, and instruments on traditional old English text "Sumer is icumen in" (1972, premiere 26 August 1972 at opening ceremonies of the 1972 Summer Olympics)
    • Sprechstücke for speaker, spoken chorus, and percussion on anonymous texts and texts by Bertolt Brecht (1976)
  • Vocal a cappella
    • "Der sinnende Storch", Op. 7 for SATB vocal quartet on text of Franz Josef Stritt (1911), unpublished (manuscript at Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich), Musiklesesaal, 30)
    • Ave Maria for mixed chorus (ca. 1912–1914, premiere 23 July 1982)
    • Cantus-Firmus-Sätze I: Zwölf alte Melodien für Singstimmen oder Instrumente (1925–1932, first published in 1932; republished in 1954 without Nos. 6 and 7)
    • Catulli Carmina I, seven movements for mixed chorus on texts by Catullus (1930, published 1931; six movements incorporated into Catulli Carmina: Ludi scaeni; the other republished in 1979 as "Lugete o veneres")
    • Catulli Carmina II, three movements for mixed chorus on texts by Catullus (1931, published 1932), revised and republished as Concento di voci I: Sirmio, Tria Catulli Carmina (1954)
    • Concento di voci II: Laudes creaturarum: Quas fecit Beatus Franciscus ad Laudem et Honorem Dei for eight-part mixed chorus on text of Francis of Assisi (1954, premiere 21 July 1957)
    • Concento di voci III: Sunt lacrimae rerum. Cantiones seriae for tenor-bass chorus; texts of the three movements respectively by Orlando di Lasso, from Ecclesiastes 3, and anonymous (1956, premiere 21 July 1957)
  • Solo voice
    • With Piano
    • Note: A publication of Orff's songs from 1910 to 1920 is in preparation. Only a few of the following were published around the time of their composition; the publishing house was Ernst Germann & Co. (see below for Opp. 12, 13 No. 3, 15, 17, and 18 No. 1). In 1975, Orff selected some to be printed in Carl Orff und sein Werk: Dokumentation, Vol. 1; in 1982, most of these were published in a score intended for performance.
      • Early songs without opus number: "Altes Weihnachtslied (Es ist ein Ros entsprungen)"; "Winternacht", text by Joseph Eichendorff; "Der einsame Fichtenbaum", text by Heinrich Heine; "Die Lust vergeht, Die Lilie", text by Mathilde von Bayern; "Das weiß ich genau" (Volksweise); "Mein süßes Lieb"
      • Frühlingslieder for soprano or tenor, Opus 1 (1911), texts by Ludwig Uhland
      • 9 Lieder for soprano or tenor, Opus 2 (1910–11), texts by Mathilde von Bayern (Nos. 1 and 2), Gustav Renner (No. 3), Nikolaus Lenau (No. 4), Adolf Friedrich Graf von Schack [de] (No. 5), Julius Mosen (No. 6), Rudolf Baumbach (No. 7), Detlev von Liliencron (No. 8), Friedrich Hölderlin (No. 9)
      • 3 Lieder for Alto or Baritone, Opus 3 (1911), texts by August Kalkoff (No. 1), Theodor Storm (No. 2), Hermann Lingg (No. 3)
      • "Die Wallfahrt nach Kevlaar" for low voice, Opus 4 (1911), text by Heinrich Heine
      • "Zlatorog" for low voice, Opus 5 (1911), text by Rudolf Baumbach
      • 2 Lieder, Opus 6 (1911): No. 1 for baritone, text by Ludwig August Frankl; No. 2 for low voice, text by Richard Beer-Hofmann
      • 5 Lieder for soprano, Opus 8 (1910–11), texts by Theodor Storm (No. 1), Hermann Lingg (No. 2), Mathilde von Bayern (No. 3), Hermann Vogel (No. 4), Hans Mayr (No. 5)
      • 6 Lieder for tenor, Opus 9 (1911), texts by Börries von Münchhausen (No. 1), Heinrich Heine (Nos. 2, 3, 4, and 6), Semper (No. 5; text unidentified, possibly by Ernst Leberecht Semper)
      • 3 Lieder, Opus 10 (1911), texts by Heinrich Heine (No. 1), by Wilhelm Hertz (No. 2), and from Friedrich Fischbach's edition of Edda (No. 3)
      • 3 Lieder, Opus 11 (1911), texts by Oskar von Redwitz (No. 1), from Friedrich Nietzsche's Also sprach Zarathustra (No. 2), and by Ernst Moritz Arndt (No. 3)
      • Eliland: Ein Sang von Chiemsee, song cycle, Opus 12 (1911, published 1912), text by Karl Stieler
      • 3 Lieder, Opus 13 (1911; No. 3 published in 1912 as Opus 13), texts by Heinrich Heine (Nos. 1 and 2) and Max Haushofer Jr. [de] (No. 3)
      • "Des Herzen Slüzzelin", Op. 15 (1912, published same year)
      • Lieder, Opus 17 (1912, published that same year), texts by Martin Greif (No. 1) and from Paul Heyse's translations of Tuscan folksongs (No. 2, comprising three individual songs)
      • 4 Lieder, Opus 18 (1912; No. 1 published that same year), texts by Börries von Münchhausen
      • 2 Lieder, Opus 19 (1912), texts by Walther von der Vogelweide
      • 2 Lieder for High Voice (1919): "Bitte", text by Nikolas Lenau; "Mein Herz ist wie ein See so weit", text by Friedrich Nietzsche
      • 3 Lieder for High Voice on texts by Klabund (1919): "Zwiegespräch", "Blond ist mein Haar", "Herr, ich liebte"
      • The First 5 Lieder und Gesänge on Texts by Franz Werfel (1920): "Als mich dein Wandeln", "Rache", "Ein Liebeslied", "Mondlied eines Mädchens", "Der gute Mensch" (of these, "Ein Liebeslied" and "Der gute Mensch" incorporated into Werkbuch I; see Choral Works)
      • The Second 5 Lieder und Gesänge on Texts by Franz Werfel (1920): "Lächeln, Atmen, Schreiten", "Litanei eines Kranken", "Nacht", "Fremde sind wir", "Veni creator spiritus" (all incorporated into Werkbuch I; see Choral Works)
    • With Orchestra
      • Orchestral version of 4 Lieder, Opus 18 (1912), unpublished (manuscript at Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, 41 and 42); see under "Solo Voice – With Piano"
      • 3 Lieder for Tenor and Orchestra on texts of Richard Dehmel (1919), unpublished (manuscript at Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Musiklesesaal, 9 and


  • Orchestral
    • Tanzende Faune: Ein Orchesterspiel, Opus 21 (1914, premiere 6 December 1995)
    • Entrata for large orchestra in five antiphonal groups, after "The Bells" by William Byrd (1539–1623) (1928, premiere 1930; reworked 1940, premiere 28 February 1941)
  • Ensemble
    • Kleines Konzert nach Lautensätzen aus dem 16. Jh., after lute works by Vincenzo Galilei, Jean-Baptiste Besard, and anonymous (1927, premiere 11 December 1928; reworked 1937 and 1975)
  • Chamber
    • Quartettsatz in B minor for string quartet, Opus 22 (ca. 1914, premiere 5 July 1989)
    • Quartettsatz in C minor for string quartet (1921, premiere 18 October 2007)
    • Präludium und Kanon for four viols and cembalo (ca. 1923), unpublished; Kanon later used at the end of De temporum fine comoedia
  • Solo Piano
    • Tonbild nach Andersen, Opus 16 (1912), unpublished (manuscript at Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Musiklesesaal, 39)

II. Pedagogical Works

  • Orff Schulwerk
    • Musik für Kinder (with Gunild Keetman) (1930–35, reworked 1950–54)
    • Tanzstück (1933)
    • Gassenhauer

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Carl Orff para niños

kids search engine
Carl Orff Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.