Carl Orff: Carmina Burana

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The Summer Concerts of the Stuttgart Oratorio Choir are traditionally free in their programmatic orientation. In contrast to the Passion Concert or Christmas Concert,where thematic contexts are taken into account, we have been able to take the opportunity in the summer over the past years to make our cultural contribution with special works. Examples of this would be the Misa Tango by Palmeri with instrumental tango compositions by Piazzolla (2019), the operatic Petite Messe solennelle by Rossini (2018), the peace mass The Armed Man by Jenkins (2015) or even a mixed French programme such as Musique du ciel with works by Franck, Fauré, Vierne, Widor, etc. (2011).

Decision for a world hit

Carl Orff’s famous Carmina Burana refers to texts found in the Benediktbeuern monastery, but nevertheless touches on other themes or places spiritual themes and texts in completely new contexts through Orff’s setting.

We see the work’s message as a “declaration of love” to spring with its awakening nature, which quite vividly depicts earthly human life in the Middle Ages. Unlike the Christian works of our tribal repertoire, the “triune God” does not hover over everything. Enthroned above everything here is the goddess Fortuna,who rules over the destinies of man and the rise and fall of the individual.

Summer Concert 2023 in the chamber version by Wilhelm Killmayer

You can look forward to this “non-sacred” work, arranged by Carl Orff’s student. The young Munich composer, barely thirty years old, arranged the Carmina Burana commission from Orff for a much smaller instrumental ensemble. Musically, the chamber version has a charm all of its own and possesses very special sound stimuli. The choral and percussion parts have remained unchanged. The orchestral part was transferred to two pianos. This gives the already strongly pronounced rhythmic level in this music a different meaning. In this reduction it becomes clear how sparingly and at the same time ingeniously Orff uses his compositional means. In the meantime, the work is heard far more often in this version than with the huge orchestration.

This edition of the “Carmina Burana” with accompaniment of two pianos, timpani and percussion is intended for performances in schools and music associations that do not have an orchestra at their disposal. In this way, I would like to take into account the wishes of wide circles. June 1956 CARL ORFF

Interesting aspects of the unusual choice of programme


  • With the magnificent concert hall of the Waldorf founding school “Uhlandshöhe”we venture a performance in a completely new venue. And the envisaged children’s choir will also be formed from the ranks of this famous school.
  • With the use of speaker Rainer Wolf there is another premiere. The three parts of the Carmina will be presented by him in a special way.