That charge was frequently leveled against the music of Carl Orff (1895–1982), the foremost German composer to achieve international eminence during the Nazi years, and the only one whose music has survived in the international repertory. The work that made him famous was Carmina burana (1936), a “scenic cantata” (sometimes staged as a ballet with singing, like Stravinsky’s Les noces) based on “Goliard” poems—Latin poems by German students of the late middle ages that lustily celebrated the vagabond life. The largest extant collection of Goliard poems is a manuscript now kept at the Bavarian State Museum in Munich, but which had belonged for centuries to the Catholic monastery at Benediktbeuren, a town nearby; Carmina burana means “Songs of Beuren.”) Orff, who lived all his life in Munich, made a selection of songs from the manuscript, which he knew from a nineteenth-century edition that contained only the texts, and grouped them into “scenes” on the basis of their subject matter: songs of fatalism under the heading Fortuna imperatrix mundi (“Dame Fortune, the ruler of the world”); nature songs (Primo vere, “In early spring”); carousing songs (In taberna, “In the tavern”); songs of love (Cour d’Amours, “At Venus’s court”). The music—scored for eight soloists, three choruses, and a huge orchestra including five percussionists, full of diatonic melodies in a vaguely antique (“modal” or at least “leading-toneless”) style, and driven by vigorous, unyielding ostinatos — was a streamlined “populist” (in German, Völkisch) adaptation of Stravinsky’s neoprimitivist manner that made its appeal to a much wider audience than did the modernist (“elitist”) original.
- Citation (MLA):
- Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 13 Music and Totalitarian Society." The Oxford History of Western Music. Oxford University Press. New York, USA. n.d. Web. 7 Oct. 2015. <http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume4/actrade-9780195384840-div1-013005.xml>.
- Citation (APA):
- Taruskin, R. (n.d.). Chapter 13 Music and Totalitarian Society. In Oxford University Press, Music in the Early Twentieth Century. New York, USA. Retrieved 7 Oct. 2015, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume4/actrade-9780195384840-div1-013005.xml
- Citation (Chicago):
- Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 13 Music and Totalitarian Society." In Music in the Early Twentieth Century, Oxford University Press. (New York, USA, n.d.). Retrieved 7 Oct. 2015, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume4/actrade-9780195384840-div1-013005.xml