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Catulli Carmina : Work information

Carl Orff ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Choeur mixte de la Radio-Television Bulgare, Orchestre Symphonique de la Radio Bulgare, Mihail Milkov (Conductor)

This work

Work name
Catulli Carmina
Work number
1943-01-01 02:00:00

This recording

Forlane CI
Ivan Pastor
Michail Bojerianov
Recording date
1988-01-01 00:00:00

The Composers

Carl Orff

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.

Track listing

  • Choir and orchestra introduction 15:06 min
  • Act 1: Choeur a Capella 1:19 min
  • Catulle avec choeur a capella 2:19 min
  • Catullus and Lesbia 2:26 min
  • Catulle avec choeur d'Hommes 0:25 min
  • Catulle avec choeur mixte 2:01 min
  • Act 2: Lesbia avec choeur mixte 6:06 min
  • Catulle avec choeur mixte 1:27 min
  • Acte 3: Choeur mixte 1:14 min
  • Catulle 1:41 min
  • Catulle avec choeur de Femmes 1:10 min
  • Choeur mixte fin de l'Acte 3 avec soprano et tenor 3:20 min
  • Catulle avec choeur mixte 1:36 min
  • Exodium - Choeur et Orchestre 1:18 min


In 1930, Orff had set seven poems by the Roman poet Gaius Valerius Catullus. Eleven years later, he revised six of these unaccompanied songs as the colourful theatrical work Catulli Carmina, adding five new texts. The eleven poems, performed a capella by the chorus, are interpolated in text and action written by Orff himself for dancers on stage, acting out the part of spectators. This creates a 'play within a play' situation, and the on-stage 'audience' oblige with applause and shouts of approval.

The orchestra is typically large with a battery of percussion that includes castanets, timpani, glockenspiel, and four pianos, and is employed to its full effect in the opening chorus, reminiscent of 'O Fortuna' from Carmina Burana. Also popular is the lullaby 'Dormi, dormi ancora' (Sleep, sleep still..). Catulli Carmina was premièred in Leipzig on 6 November 1943, but with its explicit language (even in Latin) the work sees relatively few performances.

In 1953, Orff grouped the like-minded works Carmina Burana, Catulli Carmina and Trionfo di Afrodite into the triptych Trionfi.