As a composer Carl Orff is best known for O Fortuna from his cantataCarmina Burana.
Born: 10 July 1895, Munich, Germany zodiac: cancer
Father: Heinrich (1869-1949), military officer, played piano and various string instruments
Mother: Paola (Koestler) (1872-1960) a talented pianist.
Siblings: Maria (Mia) sister
Wife 1: Alice Solscher, (1920 - 1927), singer
Children: Godela (daughter), actress and elocution teacher
Wife 2: Gertrud Willert (1939 - 1953), founder of Orff music therapy
Wife 3: Luise Rinser (1954 - 1959), writer
Wife 4: Liselotte Schmitz (1960 - ) Director of the Carl Orff Foundation
Died: 29 March 1982, Munich Germany, see findagrave
Grave: Klosterkirche, Andechs, nr Munich, Germany
Cause of death: unspecified (age 86 so probably of old age!)
Orpheus (adaptation of Monteverdi's Orfeo)
Trionfo di Afrodite
Prelude for orchestra
Concertino for wind
Music for Children
Orff-Schulwerk: an approach to music education still used worlwide.
Writings: 5 volumes of his 'Music for Children' published in 1950.
- "Since the beginning of time, children have not liked to study. They would much rather play, and if you have their interests at heart, you will let them learn while they play; they will find that what they have mastered is child's play."
- "Tell me, I forget, show me, I remember, involve me, I understand."
- "Experience first, then intellectualize."
- " Elemental music is never just music. It's bound up with movement, dance and speech, and so it is a form of music in which one must participate, in which one is involved not as a listener but as a co-performer."
Age 5: First piano lessons.
Age 7: First cello lessons
Age 16: Some music published.
Age 17 - 19: Studies music at Academy of Music, Munich.
Age 21: Musical Director of Munich Chamber Theatre
Age 22: Military Service. (First World War). Severely injured in the trenches.
Age 23: Musical director in Mannheim and Darmstadt
Age 29: Co-founded Günther School of Music in Munich.
Age 31: Begins collaboration with Gunild Keetman, co-originator of the Orff Schulwerk system of music education.
Age 41: Music for the 1936 Berlin Olympics 'Entrance of the Children'.
Age 42: First performance of Carmina Burana.
Age 49: (1944) Günther School closed by the Nazis
Age 55-59: Publisher Schott publishes "Orff Schulwerk. Musik für Kinder"
Age 67,68 and71:lectures abroad on 'Schulwerk'
Age 80 - 86: Works on his 8 volumes of 'Carl Orff and his Works'
A complete performance (1hr 11min) of Carmina Burana here
Orff and Nazism
Opinions on Orff's relationship with fascism and the Nazi regime are divided. There are those that condemn him as being a supporter and collaborator and others who strongly defend him.
This is a debate which I do not wish to enter into here in any depth.
It does appear though that as a man his behaviour was determined by his own interests and that his personal life was 'unhappy' as evidenced from his four marriages and his disowning his only daughter.
There is also a 55min documentary (in German with English subtitles) here on YouTube.
Together with his colleague Gunild Keetman Orff developed an approach of teaching music to children which is still used today all over the world.
It uses the child's sense of play using song, dance, acting, movement and the use of simple percussion instruments in the belief that children can learn music in the same way that they learn a language. See links below for more information.
Answers.com a selection of reference sites including Wikipedia
Orff Society UK - Nurturing Creativity through Music
AOSA American Orff-Schulwerk Association
About.com an overview of the Schulwerk system
Arthur Coleman MD interesting article
Back to 52composers HOME page