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Carmina Burana

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Carl Orff

Carl Orff (arr. John Krance)

Subtitle: cantiones profanae

General Info

Year: 1937 / 1967
Duration: c. 23:30
Original Medium: Orchestra and choir
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher Schott Music
Cost: Score and Parts - $175.00   |   Score Only - $40.00


1. O fortune, variable as the moon
2. I lament fortune's blows
3. Behold the spring
4. Dance - on the lawn
5. The noble forest
6. Were the world all mine
7. The god of love flies everywhere
8. I am the abbot
9. When we are in the tavern - 3:33
10. I am suspended between love and chastity
11. Sweetest boy
12. Hail to thee, most beautiful
13. Fortune, empress of the world


Full Score
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
Alto Saxophone I-II
Tenor Saxophone
Baritone Saxophone
Cornet (in Bb) I-II-III
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Piano (2, optional)
Celesta (optional)
Timpani (2 players)
Percussion, 4-5 players, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Beer Steins (large ceramic mugs, 2)
  • Bell Plate
  • Cymbal (large crash, suspended)
  • Glockenspiel (3)
  • Ratchet
  • Sleigh Bells
  • Snare Drum (2)
  • Tam-Tam
  • Tambourine
  • Triangle
  • Wood Block
  • Xylophone (2, second is optional if pianos are used)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Carl Orff's first stage work, Carmina Burana, was composed in 1935-6 and premiered at the Frankfurt Opera in 1937; it became an outstanding success. Orff drew the inspiration for his grand vocal and orchestral work from 24 poems of the 200 found in the 13th century monastery of Benediktbeuern, near Munich in Bavaria, and published in 1847 under the title of Carmina Burana. Carmina is the plural of the Latin word carmen and in early time, carried the implication of student songs. Burana was the Latin name for the area we know today as Bavaria. Both sacred and secular, the texts are frank avowals of earthly pleasure: eating, dancing, drinking, gambling, and lovemaking. They proclaim the beauty of life and the glory of springtime. The music is simple in harmony and range, consistent with 13th century music, with a driving rhythm to which the listener instinctively responds. John Krance, who worked with Orff on this arrangement, has incorporated the vocal melodies into a setting entirely instrumental in structure.

- Program Note by William V. Johnson for the San Luis Obispo Wind Orchestra concert program, 15 May 2010

Six hundred years before Carl Orff was born, a group of monks at the Bavarian monastery of Benedikbeuern created a manuscript of verses written by various traveling scholars, clerics, and students who had stayed at the monastery. This manuscript was discovered in 1803 and published in 1847. The verses of late medieval poetry, written in Latin, Middle High German, and Old French, are marked by their vernacular, blunt language and startling eroticism. They extol the virtues of eating, drinking and carnal behavior while taking a sarcastic and scornful stab at the clergy’s decline in morality. In 1937 Orff set them to music that has since become his most famous composition, Carmina Burana.

Carmina Burana has become such a staple of the choral-orchestral repertoire that its music has pervaded many film scores and television commercials (if the producers of these projects had taken the time to find out what the chorus was singing, they might have chose something more appropriate!). Nearly everyone recognizes the opening chorus, O Fortuna, but hardly anyone knows that it is a song in praise of the moody Goddess of Fortune, whose wheel of fate rolls unpredictab1y over mankind. The rest of the cantata is divided into three sections: Spring, In the Tavern, and Court of Love. Spring is a collection of poems praising nature, the sun, the earth and her resources, boisterous singers, coy young girls, and the sensual germination of life and love. In the Tavern consists of verses reserved solely for men. The men first lament, then celebrate the fate of the beautiful swan who is to be roasted for dinner, then sing a series of toasts which degenerate into an orgy of senseless drinking.Court of Love contains only verses with a hint of subtlety. These poems describe the sighs of love, longing, courtship and the desire for a kiss. Court of Love ends with a hymn to the Goddess of Love before the O Fortuna chorus returns, creating a bridge from the beginning of the cantata to the end, reminding us that the wheel of life keeps turning; yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

- Program Note by Silas Nathaniel Huff


(Needed - please join the WRP if you can help.)

State Ratings

  • Florida: V (selected movements)
  • New York: VI (Nos. 1,2,4,6,and 9 as well as 10 or 13)
  • Texas: III. (play mvts 1 & 2 plus two other mvts or play 13, plus two other mvts)
  • Texas: IV. Complete
  • Virginia: VI (selection of 7 movements)


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Texas at Arlington Wind Symphony (Douglas Stotter, conductor) - 9 May 2021
  • Luther Burbank High School (San Antonio, Tx.) Band (Hector Trevino, conductor) - 12 February 2021 (2021 TMEA Conference, San Antonio) (Virtual)
  • Windy City Winds (Chicago, Ill.) (Mark Mosley, conductor) – 6 March 2020
  • University of Texas (Austin) Longhorn Concert Band (Jonathan Villela, conductor) – 1 March 2020
  • Humboldt State University (Arcata, Calif.) Wind Ensemble (Paul Cummings, conductor) – 28 February 2020
  • University of Rhode Island (Kingston) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Gene Pollart, conductor) – 8 December 2019
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison Concert Band (Scott Teeple, conductor) – 24 November 2019
  • Michigan State University (East Lansing) Symphony Band (David Thornton, conductor) – 24 November 2019
  • University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) Wind Ensemble (Travis J. Cross, conductor) – 6 November 2019
  • Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) Symphonic Band (Shawn Vondran, conductor) – 25 October 2019
  • Saddleback College (Mission Viejo, Calif.) Wind Ensemble (Georgios Kouritas, conductor) – 3 May 2019>
  • Penn State University (University Park) Concert Band (Gregory Drane, conductor) – 25 April 2019
  • Southeastern Louisiana University (Hammond) Wind Symphony (Derek Stoughton, Conductor) - 17 April 2019
  • Saitama (Japan) Sakae High School Wind Orchestra (Akira Oku, conductor) - 14 February 2019 (2019 TMEA Conference, San Antonio)
  • University of Arizona (Tucson) Wind Ensemble (Chad Shoopman, conductor) – 8 February 2019
  • University of Miami (Coral Gables) Honor Band Wind Ensemble (Jerry Junkin, conductor) – 2 February 2019
  • Contra Costa Wind Symphony (Walnut Creek, Calif.) (Brad Hogarth, conductor) - 14 October 2018
  • Ithaca (N.Y.) College Wind Ensemble (Christopher Hughes, conductor) – 26 April 2018
  • University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) Wind Symphony (Benjamin Lorenzo, conductor) – 24 April 2018

Works for Winds by This Composer

This composer primarily wrote orchestral music. Carmina Burana is the only known transcription of his works.


  • Miles, Richard B., and Larry Blocher. (2010). Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 1. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 915-925.
  • Orff, C.; Krance, J. (1967). Carmina burana : (cantiones profanae) : suite for concert band = für grosses Blasorchester [score]. Schott: Mainz.