Carl Orff

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Carl Orff (July 10, 1895(1895-07-10) – March 29, 1982(1982-03-29)) was a 20th-century German composer, best known for his cantata Carmina Burana (1937). In addition to his career as a composer, Orff developed an influential method of music education for children.


Early life

Orff was born in Munich on July 10, 1895. His family was Bavarian and active in the German military.

Orff started studying the piano at age five and also took organ and cello lessons. However, he was more interested in composing original music than in studying to be a performer. Orff wrote and staged puppet shows for his family, composing music for piano, violin, zither, and glockenspiel to accompany them. He had a short story published in a children's magazine in 1905 and started to write a book about nature. In his spare time he enjoyed collecting insects.

By the time he was a teenager, Orff was writing songs, although he had not studied harmony or composition; his mother helped him set down his first works in musical notation. Orff wrote his own texts and he learned the art of composing, without a teacher, by studying classical masterworks on his own.

In 1911, at age 16, some of Orff's music was published.[clarification needed] Many of his youthful works were songs, often settings of German poetry. They fell into the style of Richard Strauss and other German composers of the day, but with hints of what would become Orff's distinctive musical language.

In 1911/1912, Orff wrote Also sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra), Op. 14, a large work for baritone voice, three choruses and orchestra, based on a passage from Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophical novel of the same title.[1][2] The following year, he composed an opera, Gisei, das Opfer (Gisei, the Sacrifice). Influenced by the French Impressionist composer Claude Debussy, he began to use colorful, unusual combinations of instruments in his orchestration.

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