Carl Orff

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Born: July 10, 1895; Munich, Germany   Died: March 29, 1982; Munich, Germany  
Although his fame rests on the success of a single work, the famous and frequently commercially mutilated Carmina Burana, Carl Orff was in fact a multi-faceted musician and prolific composer who wrote in many styles before developing the primal, driving language which informs his most famous work. In addition to his fame as the creator of Carmina burana, Orff enjoyed international renown as the world's pre-eminent authority on children's music Read more education, his life's work in that area represented by Musik für Kinder, five eclectic collections of music to be performed by children, eventually developing into a more extensive series known as Orff Schulwerk.

Born in 1895 to an old Bavarian family, Orff studied piano and cello while still a young boy. He later studied at the Munich Academy of Music, graduating in 1914. The music that he composed during this period shows the influence of several composers, including Debussy and Richard Strauss. In 1914, Orff was appointed Kapellmeister at the Munich Kammerspiele, where he remained until joining the military in 1917. Discharged from service the following year, Orff continued to work as a conductor, accepting further positions in Mannheim and Darmstadt during the 1918-1919 seasons. Returning to Munich in 1919, Orff studied composition privately with Heinrich Kaminski while supporting himself as a teacher. In 1924, he founded the Güntherschule for music and dance with Dorothee Günther, dedicating himself to making musical performance accessible to children. Under his guidance, an entire orchestra of special "Orff instruments" was designed, enabling children to play music without formal training. The following year, Orff made three stage adaptations of works by Monteverdi. Continuing his work in the area of Baroque music, Orff became conductor of the Munich Bach society in 1930, a position he held until 1933. The experience of performing Baroque music, particularly sacred works for the stage, convinced Orff that an effective musical performance must fuse music, words and movement, a goal no doubt partly inspired by his work with the Güntherschule. Orff embodied his conception of music in the fabulously successful Carmina Burana (1937), which in many ways defined him as a composer. Based on an important collection of Latin and German Goliard poems found in the monastery of Benediktbeuren, this work exemplifies Orff's search for an idiom that would reveal the elemental power of music, allowing the listener to experience music as a overwhelming, primitive force. Goliard poetry, which not only celebrates love and wine, but also pokes fun at the clergy, perfectly suited Orff's desire to create a musical work appealing to a fundamental musicality that, as he believed, every human being possesses. Eschewing melodic development and harmonic complexity, and articulating his musical ideas through basic sonorities and easily discernible rhythmic patterns, Orff created an idiom which many found irresistible. The perceived "primitivism" of Carmina burana notwithstanding, 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, where he had spent his entire life. Read less
Carl Orff: Antigonae / Sawallisch, Modl, Radev, Dooley, Kuen, Uhl
Release Date: 03/30/2010   Label: Profil  
Catalog: 9066   Number of Discs: 2
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Orff: Carmina Burana / Hickox, London SO
Release Date: 10/28/2008   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 5067   Number of Discs: 1
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Günther Wand Edition - Orff: Carmina Burana
Release Date: 07/19/2005   Label: Profil  
Catalog: 5005   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 1-25 of 232 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    I Don't Like Classical Music, But I Kinda Like This!
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 74698 Release Date: 06/17/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Carl Orff,  Richard Wagner,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Nigel Woodhouse,  Paul Meyer,  Kolja Blacher,  Eric Le Sage  ... 
    Conductor:  Fritz Reiner,  Eduardo Mata,  Gustav Kuhn,  Mark Stephenson  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus  ... 
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  • 2.
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 1227072 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Gustav Holst,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Ludovico Einaudi,  Jean Sibelius  ... 
    Performer:  Nicola Benedetti,  Craig Ogden,  Ji Liu,  Henk Rubingh  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Andrew Litton,  Neeme Järvi,  Riccardo Chailly  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Musici
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  • 3.
    Herbert Blomstedt - The San Francisco Years
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002032302 Release Date: 04/01/2014   Number of Discs: 15
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Berwald,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Jard Van Nes,  Elisabeth Norberg-Schulz,  Wolfgang Holzmair,  Wendy Hoffman  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  San Francisco Symphony Chorus,  San Francisco Girls Chorus  ... 
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  • 4.
    Orff: Carmina Burana / Tynan, Kennedy, Pogossov, Graf
    Label: Lpo   Catalog: 76 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Orff
    Performer:  Rodion Pogossov,  Andrew Kennedy,  Sarah Tynan
    Conductor:  Hans Graf
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Choir,  Trinity Boys' Choir
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  • 5.
    100 Hits: Classical Greats
    Label: 100 Hits   Catalog: 1017490 Release Date: 02/25/2014   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Myra Hess,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Geraint Jones,  Karl Münchinger,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Myra Hess  ... 
    Conductor:  Geraint Jones,  Karl Münchinger,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Leopold Stokowski  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Musici,  Members of the Vienna Octet (Members)
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  • 6.
    The Westminster Legacy
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001999302 Release Date: 02/18/2014   Number of Discs: 40
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Gustav Mahler  ... 
    Performer:  Sena Jurinac,  Lucretia West,  Hans Loeffler,  Frederick Guthrie  ... 
    Conductor:  Hermann Scherchen,  Pierre Monteux,  René Leibowitz,  Erich Leinsdorf  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Orchestra,  Vienna Academy Chamber Chorus  ... 
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  • 7.
    Orff: Carmina Burana / Rattle, Berlin Philharmonic [blu-ray]
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2053674 Release Date: 01/28/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Orff,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Sally Matthews,  Lawrence Brownlee,  Christian Gerhaher
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Radio Chorus
    Blu-ray Video: $39.99
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  • 8.
    Carl Orff: Carmina Burana
    Label: Lim   Catalog: 73 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Orff
    Performer:  Judith Blegen,  William [Tenor Vocal] Brown,  Hĺkan Hagegĺrd
    Conductor:  Robert Shaw
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  • 9.
    Teldec - 50-CD Collection
    Label: Teldec   Catalog: 643851 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Antonín Dvorák,  Franz Joseph Haydn  ... 
    Performer:  András Schiff,  Josef Protschka,  Barbara Bonney,  Edita Gruberova  ... 
    Conductor:  Iván Fischer,  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  Carlo Rizzi,  Reinbert De Leeuw  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Festival Orchestra,  Chamber Orchestra of Europe,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $299.98
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  • 10.
    Karajan - 1970s
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001873702 Release Date: 09/03/2013   Number of Discs: 82
    Composer:  Arcangelo Corelli,  Francesco Manfredini,  Pietro Antonio Locatelli,  Giuseppe Torelli  ... 
    Performer:  Thomas Brandis,  Michel Schwalbé,  Karlheinz Zöller,  Edith Mathis  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Hans Priem Bergrath
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus  ... 
    CD: $313.99
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  • 11.
    Music Of Steel - Heroic Themes From The Movies
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001871502 Release Date: 07/09/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Williams,  Gioachino Rossini,  Richard Strauss,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Helga Dernesch,  Claudia Hellmann,  Marilyn Tyler,  Brigitte Fassbaender  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly,  Sir Georg Solti,  Stanley Black,  Antal Doráti  ... 
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  • 12.
    Sawallisch Conducts Mozart, Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Haydn, Schubert, Orff
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 12041 Release Date: 05/28/2013   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Schubert,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Jan Pospichal,  Ernst Weissensteiner,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Wolfgang Klos  ... 
    Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Chorus
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  • 13.
    Label: Gala   Catalog: 7704647 Release Date: 05/24/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Richard Strauss,  Carl Maria von Weber  ... 
    Performer:  Hermann Uhde,  Jerome Hines,  Lisa Della Casa,  Christel Goltz  ... 
    Conductor:  Fritz Stiedry,  Dimitri Mitropoulos,  H. Eckner,  Fausto Cleva  ... 
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  • 14.
    Label: Classical Gallery   Catalog: 7701314 Release Date: 05/03/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Orff
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  • 15.
    50 Best London Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 333092 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Engelbert Humperdinck,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Michel Béroff,  Jeanne Loriod,  Simon Preston,  Gervase de Peyer  ... 
    Conductor:  André Previn,  Sir Adrian Boult,  Lamberto Gardelli,  Sir Charles Mackerras  ... 
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  • 16.
    Micromania: 85 Piano Miniatures
    Label: Tyx Art   Catalog: 12009 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Carl Nielsen,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  John Bull,  Hugo Distler  ... 
    Performer:  Matthias Veit
    CD: $24.99
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  • 17.
    Classical Barbra
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 192255 Release Date: 02/05/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Joseph Canteloube,  Hugo Wolf,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Performer:  Barbra Streisand,  Claus Ogerman
    Conductor:  Claus Ogerman
    CD: $11.99
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  • 18.
    Label: Net Fx   Catalog: 4780792 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Robat Arwyn,  Karl Jenkins,  César Franck,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov  ... 
    Performer:  Bryn Terfel,  Rhys Meirion,  Aled Jones,  Dewi Ellis Jones  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 19.
    Essential 20th Century Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 234372 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev,  Joaquin Rodrigo,  Aram Khachaturian,  Sir Edward Elgar  ... 
    Performer:  Jacqueline Du Pré,  Cécile Ousset,  Peter Donohoe,  Stomu Yamashta  ... 
    Conductor:  André Previn,  Simon Rattle,  Yuri Temirkanov,  Sir John Barbirolli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Modern
    CD: $12.99
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  • 20.
    Essential Choral
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 234422 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  George Frideric Handel,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Heather Harper,  John Shirley-Quirk,  Robert Tear,  Peter Barley  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Sir Charles Mackerras,  Sir David Willcocks,  Wolfgang Sawallisch  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 21.
    Classical Album 2013
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 1206561 Release Date: 11/27/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  André Rieu,  Paul Mealor,  Francesco Sartori,  Ennio Morricone  ... 
    Performer:  André Rieu,  Katherine Jenkins,  Russell Watson,  Milos Karadaglic  ... 
    Conductor:  Gareth Malone,  Barry Wordsworth
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Escala
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  • 22.
    Fifty Shades Of Emotions
    Label: Belmondo   Catalog: 53 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Samuel Barber,  Claude Debussy,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
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  • 23.
    Eugene Ormandy Conducts 20th Century Classics
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 5417202 Release Date: 11/06/2012   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Gustav Holst,  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Modest Mussorgsky  ... 
    Performer:  John Williams,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Van Cliburn,  Isaac Stern  ... 
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Mendelssohn Club Chorus Philadelphia,  Rutgers University Chorus
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  • 24.
    Orff: Carmina Burana; Catulli Carmina; Trionf Di Afrodite
    Label: Acanta/Pilz   Catalog: 233584 Release Date: 10/30/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Carl Orff
    Performer:  Roland Hermann,  Barry McDaniel,  Ruth-Margaret Pütz,  Michael [Tenor vocals] Cousins  ... 
    Conductor:  Ferdinand Leitner
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  • 25.
    Label: Membran / Documents   Catalog: 1203297 Release Date: 10/02/2012   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  George Frideric Handel,  Giovanni Palestrina,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Helmut Deutsch,  Roland Keller,  Uwe Harrer,  René Kollo  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden,  Domenico Bartolucci,  Hans Gillesberger  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra,  Marianne & Michael
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