Carmina Burana MIDI Files
Bot Productions has sequenced Carl Orff's Carmina Burana and made it available to you here. To hear an individual song, click its link in the list below. Or, download a zip file containing the entire work:
About Carmina Burana
Carmina Burana or "Songs of Benediktbeuern" is a collection of 13th-century stories, poems and songs which was discovered in 1803 at a monestary in Beuern, Bavaria, and has become one of the best-known sources for medieval European literature. It contains Latin plays on Biblical themes, pastoral and religious poems, recruiting songs for the Crusades, satires, and a large group of lively, sometimes licentious, love songs and drinking sngs. Composer Carl Orff selected portions of Carmina for what became his most popular work, a "scenic oratorio" designed for the stage as well as for concert performance. It was first performed in 1936.
Orff's Carmina is divided into three parts framed by a prologue and an epilogue. The last chorus, Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi, is a counterpart of the first, suggesting the turn of Fortune's wheel, indifferent to good and bad alike. The first main section, Primo vere, evokes budding, blossoming spring with a sequence of fresh-sounding quasi-folk dances. Part Two is an inebriated scherzo in which the tenor impersonates a roasted cygnet, the Abbot of Cockaigne encourages intemperance, and a final chorus sets the world reeling with merry-making. Part Three contains sublimely beautiful love songs, leading to Blanzifor et Helena, a high-summer celebration of love's consummation. At this dramatic climax, Fate again intervenes, spinning us back to the starting point.
The theme of Carmina is spring, wine, love, all symbolic of divine creativity as well as pagan joy in the basic realities of life, the first principles of existence. Musically, Orff breathes new life into early forms such as plainsong and folksong, particularly those of his native Bavaria. Rhythm ad percussion are highlighted as Orff honors music's origin not only in song but also in dance, another symbol of ecstasy.
Critic Christopher Palmer notes that the appeal of Orff's music lies in the way it uncovers and reasserts something of music's "reason," its primordial and instinctual qualities. There is an innocent, unselfconscious quality to Carmina. We respond to its eternal, elemental truths in the spirit of medieval theologian/poet Peter Abelard, who urged making "no more new songs of the mysteries of philosophy, but of love's secrets only."