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Carl Orff ( 1895 - 1982 )  Category ( Composers ) [suggest a correction]
 

Carl OrffCarl Orff was a twentieth-century German composer, most famous for his stirring interpretation of the Medieval German manuscript, Carmina Burana. One portion of that work, entitled "O Fortuna" remains popular with Hollywood moviemakers who have used it as a way to build suspense in a movie's soundtrack. He was also prominent in the field of music education. Born in Munich, Orff came from a Bavarian family that was very active in the military. According to family tradition, his father's regimental band often played the young Orff's early compositions.

Orff studied at the Munich Academy of Music until the start of the first World War in 1914. He served in the military during the war, and then held various positions at German opera houses. Later he returned to Munich to resume his music studies. In 1925, and for the remainder of his life, Orff was the head of a department and co-founder of the Guenther School for gymnastics, music, and dance in Munich. He enjoyed encouraging a love and appreciation of music in children, and it was at the school that he developed his theories in music education. Orff's efforts in music education are best exemplified in his "Schulwerk," translated into English as "Music for Children." Providing a simple musical instrumentation, even untutored child musicians could perform the piece with relative ease. "Schulwerk" music is intentionally elemental and combines movement, singing, playing, and improvisation. His Carmina Burana premiered in Frankfurt in 1937 and was hugely popular with the Nazi movement. Scholars continue to debate Orff's association with the Nazi party, but nothing has been proven. What is known is that he was a close personal friend of Kurt Huber, one of the founders of the German resistance movement. Orff later claimed that he was a member of that same group, though there is no other evidence for this. Orff died at the age of 86 and is buried in Munich.

Image: Carl Orff


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