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Carl Orff

German Born 10 Jul 1895 Died 29 Mar 1982

Carl Orff was born in Munich in 1895 into a military family. His first musical training consisted of piano lessons from his mother. He also learned to play the organ and cello and wrote some songs. He received his formal musical training at the Music Academy in Munich. From 1915 to 1917, Orff was musical director of the Munich Kammerspiele, then the Nationaltheater in Mannheim and the Landestheater in Darmstadt during 1918-19, after which he taught. In 1923 he met Dorothee Günther, with whom he co-founded the Güntherschule for gymnastics, music and dance in Munich in 1924.

Between 1930 and 1933 Orff conducted the Music Bach Society, and began to publish works about the art of creating music, giving lectures, demonstrations and training courses. His work with the Bach Society eventually caused him to write his most famous work, Carmina Burana (1937). However, during the late 30’s and early 40’s, his music was deemed to be unsuitable for public performance by the Nazi government, and in 1944 the Güntherschule was closed down, and later destroyed by bombing.

After the War, Orff was contacted by the Bavarian Broadcasting Company and asked whether he could create a series of broadcasts for and with children. His initial doubts were soon replaced with enthusiasm, and a collection of musical dramas ensued, most of which were eventually performed at the Salzburg Festival or the Stuttgart Staatstheater. Between 1950 and 1955 Orff taught composition at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Munich. In 1955 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Tübingen, and again in 1972 by the University of Munich. In 1961 the Orff Institute was opened, a branch of the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. It is still open today, teaching children about music.

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