Carl Orff

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About Carl Orff

Orff was a pioneering music educator whose reputation was secured with Carmina Burana (1936), a bawdy dramatic cantata based on 24 medieval poems about the allures of lust, gluttony, and fortune. Born in Munich in 1895, Orff graduated from the Munich Academy in 1914, and, a decade later, cofounded a school where he developed his Orff-Schulwerk, an influential music education method that combined his specially designed percussion instruments with improvisation, dance, and gymnastics. With Carmina Burana, he established a raw, ritualistic idiom, influenced by folk music and Stravinsky. Orff produced two more cantatas—Catulli Carmina (1943) and Trionfo di Afrodite (1953), forming a trilogy—followed by several works modeled on Greek tragedy, including Antigonae (1949), Oedipus der Tyrann (1959) and Prometheus (1968). Since his death in Munich in 1982, his primitivist style has become wedged into the popular consciousness.

Munich, Germany
July 10, 1895

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