(b Munich, 10 July 1895; d Munich, 29 March 1982). German composer and music educator. Drawing on ancient Greek tragedy and employing models of Baroque theatrum emblematicum, he established a musical theatre of impressive force permeated at times by Bavarian peasant life and Christian mystery.
Orff was born into a family of army officers given to scientific and historical studies, whose members were also great music lovers. He began to study the piano, the organ and the cello at the age of five. In Munich he attended the Ludwigsgymnasium (1905–7) and later the Wittelsbacher Gymnasium (1907–12). Dissatisfied with the teaching of Beer-Walbrunn at the Akademie der Tonkunst (1912–14), he discovered for himself not only the sound world of Debussy, a fascination that is readily apparent in the music drama Gisei, das Opfer (1913), but also the musical language of Schoenberg. His activity as Kapellmeister at the Munich Kammerspiele (1917), where he was introduced by his piano teacher Hermann Zilcher, was decisive for his musical development. There he collaborated with the director Otto Falckenberg. The first version of Orff’s stage music to Ein Sommernachtstraum dates from that year, although the music was never performed. Drafted into the army in 1917, he was wounded at the front, and having been declared unfit for active service, he saw out the rest of the war first at the Nationaltheater in Mannheim and then at the Hoftheater in Darmstadt. On his return to Munich in 1919, he devoted himself to studying the music of the 16th and 17th centuries, especially Monteverdi, to whom Curt Sachs had drawn his attention. Between 1920 and 1921 he continued his studies with Heinrich Kaminski. In 1924 he founded, along with Dorothee Günther, the Güntherschule in Munich, an educational centre for gymnastics, rhythmic movement, music and dance; it was within these surroundings that he developed his concept of elementare Musik, a synthesis of gesture, poetic language and music that was later to fertilize his personal musical style and from which his Schulwerk would eventually evolve. The first edition of Orff-Schulwerk: elementare Musikübung, published in collaboration with Gunild Keetman and Hans Bergese, appeared during the period 1932–5.
Orff’s realizations of several Monteverdi scores, beginning with Orpheus (first version, 1923–4, to a German text by Dorothée Günther), were of pioneering significance. Between 1932 and 1933, he directed the Munich Bachverein, a concert society for which he staged Schütz’s Auferstehungshistoria (1933) and conducted several concerts. With the advent of National Socialism, he resigned from his post as director of the Bachverein. His first success as a composer, albeit not an unqualified one, came with the première of Carmina burana in Frankfurt on 8 June 1937. After the war Orff, along with his publisher, was accused of having exerted too great an effort in promoting his works under Hitler’s dictatorship. Particularly controversial was the first performance in Frankfurt (1939) of the third version of the incidental music to Ein Sommernachtstraum. Against the background of the racial discrimination exercised by the Nazis towards Mendelssohn’s works, the composer may indeed have ‘overestimate[d] the scope of musical autonomy in a state committed to a particular Weltanschauung’ (Maier, 9). However, Orff was not a member of the party at any time and entertained towards it no feelings of ideological sympathy. Nor were there among his closest friends or collaborators any supporters of the Nazi regime’s ideology. The fact that Carmina burana had been torn to shreds by Herbert Gerigk, the influential critic of the Völkischer Beobachter, who referred to the ‘incomprehensibility of the language’ coloured by a ‘jazzy atmosphere’, caused many of Germany’s opera Intendanten to fear staging the work after its première.
From 1950 to 1960 Orff held a chair of composition at the Hochschule für Musik in Munich. In 1956 he became a member of the order Pour le mérite for science and art; he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Tübingen in 1959, and in 1972 a second from the University of Munich; that year he was also awarded the Grosses Verdienstkreuz der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, while in 1974 the Katholische Akademie of Bavaria bestowed on him the Guardini Prize. During the period 1972–81 he was occupied with his eight-volume publication Carl Orff und sein Werk: Dokumentation (Tutzing, 1975–83).
The first significant compositions by the young Orff were settings for voice and piano of texts by, among others, Friedrich Hölderlin, Heinrich Heine, Ludwig Uhland, Nikolaus Lenau, Richard Beer-Hofmann, Friedrich Nietzsche and Karl Stieler. But his first music to be published was the cycle Eliland, ein Sang vom Chiemsee (1911). Around the beginning of the 1980s Orff selected 14 of the early songs, including seven Werfel poems dating from 1920–21, for a collection that appeared as Frühe Lieder. This song sequence shows the composer distancing himself from late Romanticism and the Straussian tradition as well as the almost seductive language of Debussy, both of which had informed the orchestral tone poem Tanzende Faune (1914) and the Treibhauslieder (to texts by Maeterlinck). In the Werfel settings and the cantata Des Turmes Auferstehung (1920, rev. 1921, also to a Werfel text), some of the traits that were to characterize his mature style are already evident: a diatonic and linear approach, tectonic construction, employment of drones and ostinatos, as well as the central role of the word, the fundamental element in that matrix of musical gestures which subsequently found expression in an order of theatricality freed from the subjectivity of late Romanticism.
Orff’s development in the 1920s took two main paths: his experience gathered at the Güntherschule (see §3 below), and his exploration of Renaissance and Baroque music. His interest in antiquity and classical languages did not arise out of the contemporary penchant for neo-classicism: this hypothesis, still maintained by some, has created numerous misunderstandings that have affected the historical reception of Orff’s works. It should be recognized that Orff’s return to ancient sources, his ‘Abstieg zu den Müttern’ as he described it, was imbued with humanistic fervour and an untainted fascination with the word as both the vehicle of and the key to all theatrical experience. Such a recognition relativizes the difficulties encountered when considering his revitalization of musical language as an ‘absolute’ means of expression.
The most notable product of Orff’s free transcriptions is his Orpheus, Klage der Ariadne and Tanz der Spröden, reworked Monteverdi scores which in 1958 he grouped into the triptych Lamenti, and the Entrata after Byrd (1928, rev. 1940). It was this artistic activity that enabled him to broaden his search for a personal theatrical mode of expression. Also of great relevance in this respect were his dramatic realizations of Baroque oratorios. Along with Schütz’s Auferstehungshistoria, Orff staged the Lukaspassion, a work formerly attributed to J.S. Bach (bwv246), for the Vereinigung für zeitgenössische Musik in 1932. That performance was accompanied by slide projections of 15th-century Tyrolean woodcuts, creating an imaginative expansion of both visual and musical space, and anticipating the ‘imagines magicae’ that were to accompany Carmina burana. By exploiting his compositional experience accumulated thus far, Orff managed to write two cycles of choral pieces accompanied by piano and percussion. For the first cycle he drew once again on seven Werfel Lieder, as well as other texts; the second cycle is to words by Brecht. Here, Orff was able to experiment with pointillist effects by combining percussion instruments, and to further perfect a compositional technique based on stratified diatonic modes supported by drones and ostinatos.
His discovery during this period of the Latin language and poems by Catullus marked a caesura in his output. For Orff this was the beginning of an exploration of classical antiquity that subsequently led him back to the very roots of European culture. The graceful suppleness of the melodic lines in the two unaccompanied cycles Catulli carmina I and II (1930–31) is the most tangible result of this experience. The way was paved to the theatrical genre and those Carmina burana songs that Orff considered the point of departure for his mature dramatic and musical style. The 23 poems, in part chosen by Orff under the philological tutelage of Michel Hofmann from the late medieval goliardic repertory in the famous Benediktbeurn manuscript, bring to life a number of allegorical tableaux; their static quality relates back, as Werner Thomas has argued (1990, pp.113–35) to a late Renaissance and Baroque conception that has its correlate in the stasis of the musical structures, which are based on strophic form, the ostinato and the drone. The harmonic idiom used by Orff just manages to elude pure tonality by suspending its gravitational pull through the use of a proto-harmonic language tinged with modal procedures. With its concise style and rhythmic pregnancy, the music liberates the latent power of the texts to create their own images and comment on the imagines magicae being staged under the unsettling aegis of the goddess Fortuna. Orff’s own research into the area of Bavarian folksong, carried out with Kurt Huber, manifests itself in the form of alternating duple and triple dance rhythms modelled on the Zwiefacher and finds a place not only in this work but also in Der Mond.
In 1953 Orff grouped Carmina burana, Catulli carmina (1941–3) and Trionfo di Afrodite (1949–51) into the triptych Trionfi. In Catulli carmina he lends 11 poems by Catullus (including six earlier a cappella choruses) a musical and dramatic dimension. This unfolds within a scene which, in its reliance on a Rahmenspiel used to frame the action and devised by Orff himself to his own words, and the use of various groups of people acting the part of spectators, acquires in performance those emblematic qualities that had already characterized Carmina burana. The work is a parable of the power of Eros; above is the stage on which the dancers move, whereas the choir and the solo singers are placed in the orchestra pit. The actual songs of the Catulli carmina are performed a cappella, as if they were a commedia madrigalesca or some sort of play within a play. Furthermore, this Rahmenspiel is scored for percussion instruments and four pianos, heralding future explorations of the timbral possibilities of percussion instruments that would lead Orff to abandon the traditional orchestra.
In the Trionfo di Afrodite, the last panel of the triptych, the ecstatic and melismatic parts of the bride and bridegroom already exhibit signs of the style employed in Antigonae. Here, Orff makes use of the ancient Greek language for the first time. To texts by Sappho and Catullus (Epithalamia lxi and lxii) he evokes the atmosphere of an archaic wedding ceremony that culminates with the appearance of Aphrodite (verses 1268–81 of Hippolytus by Euripides). Such a manifestation of divinity is achieved by a chromatic filling out of the musical space, a procedure that marks the most complete distancing from the diatonic background and which Orff later adopted in the chordal agglomerates of the Tiresias episode in Oedipus (Zillig, 207).
With Der Mond and Die Kluge Orff made a most original contribution to the genre of fairy tale opera. In Der Mond (1936–8), designated ‘ein kleines Welttheater’, the reference to the enormous multi-dimensionality of the Baroque theatre is evident. The story unravels on three levels: the level of human action, that of the underworld, and that of the heavens. It is out of this final plane that Petrus, the guardian of the night and the heavens, descends at the end of the work to restore the moon to its properly assigned place above the earth. This subject, which originates in the mythical interpretation of the phenomenon of the phases of the moon, is based on the fable of the same name by the Grimm brothers. Orff traces this story back to its pre-Christian origins, wholly evident in the finale. Petrus is no longer the St Peter of the Grimms, but rather a wise, good-natured custodian of order in the world. In Orff’s setting the story unfolds through the voice of a narrator, and the scene acquires epic and evocative characteristics. Orff’s allusion to the Evangelist of the Baroque oratorio is clear: the formal structure is that of a Singspiel, its music bestowing occasionally a knowing wink at 19th-century operatic convention and exhibiting the immediacy of popular songs and dance tunes (as, for example, in the ‘Totenbacchanal’ scene). Orff considered the orchestra of Der Mond as his ‘last Romantic orchestra’, perhaps because of the magical tonal colours of the finale. It is not only the transparency of the score but also the fairy tale stylization of the characters that are novel, placing the work firmly in the domain of 20th century sensibility.
For his second fairy tale opera, Die Kluge: die Geschichte von dem König und der klugen Frau (1941–2), Orff drew on a fable common to countless cultures of East and West, taking as his starting point a version by the Cabila people as recorded by Leo Frobenius (Atlantis, 1921–8). The tale centres on the wisdom of a peasant girl who is married to the King after solving three riddles, then helps her husband achieve a fuller understanding of himself and the world. The multi-dimensionality evinced in Orff’s ‘Welttheater’, that of Der Mond, here contrasts with the centrality of humankind and its role in fable. The action takes place on two planes. The decision to introduce a subplot acted out by three mechanicals to accompany the main story is evidence of a Shakespearean influence in a theatrical sense, these Strolche (‘vagabonds’) wholly characteristic of Orff’s own idea of theatre. The treatment of the orchestra is characterized by an indulgence in harsh tonal colours far removed from any Romantic sound ideal. In terms of compositional techniques, here as elsewhere, the repetition of rhythmically incisive, brief melodic cells in increasingly abbreviated forms is significant, exemplified in the peasant lament with which the work opens.
From the 1940s onwards Orff delved increasingly into classical antiquity. The trilogy that he began with Antigonae (1941–9) resulted both in means and intention in his most radical contribution to modern music theatre, a salient moment in the 20th century’s attempts to harness ancient Attic tragedy. Antigonae itself marks a second turning point in Orff’s development, for it coincides with the implementation of an idea that had flashed through his mind in 1914. While listening to Strauss’s Elektra in a performance conducted by the composer, Orff became aware that this opera marked the end of a musical era and of a particular way of dealing with antiquity. In Hölderlin’s version of Antigonae he recognized a basis that could be used to restore to theatre a cultic status and would make it possible to reclaim the tragedies of Sophocles for the music theatre of his own times. As Stefan Kunze wrote (1985–90, p.201), according to Orff ‘the Antique is not a means to devise new forms of musical expression’, to ‘serve the composition’, but rather one by which ‘to appropriate antique tragedy as a real theatrical event’. To this corresponds the development of a singing style that takes as its starting point recitative in the manner of psalmody, the use of brittle, incisive instrumental sounds entrusted to six pianos, and a large battery of percussion, as well as choirs of wind instruments and nine double basses.
Hölderlin’s ‘Hesperic’ translation acts as a mediator, allowing us to glimpse the sacral nature of the Sophocles text: the ‘Sphinx-like rigidity’ of the ancient Greek is transformed into the ‘glowing magma’ that is ‘Western language’ (Georgiades, 192). This is counterbalanced by a strict musical stylization in which recitative on the recto tono builds up to the high pathos of Creon’s melismas and to ecstatic levels in the chromatic declamation of Tiresias. At the end of a long development, Orff’s style still admits a harmonic idiom that Wilhelm Keller (p.43) calls ‘personantisch’, by which he means ‘the simultaneous sounding of different elements within a clearly defined tonal field of reference’. In Antigonae, and in later tragedies too, the spoken word plays a central role. Out of the word are generated the rhythmic pulse and melodic line, while the orchestra sustains the declamation of the singers and, in erecting large, static blocks of sound, mirrors the architectonics of the tragedy. In his next work, Oedipus der Tyrann (1951–8), also based on a Hölderlin text, the word again becomes the pivot around which the musical drama is constructed, given the dialectic nature of a drama in which, according to Hölderlin, ‘the spoken word set against the spoken word is everything’. A highly graduated range of expressive nuances combines in various ways with the percussion instruments to produce new timbres. The central role of the Oedipus figure corresponds musically to a strictly uniform distribution of tonal areas.
In Prometheus desmotes (1963–7) it is the scene of the tragedy that becomes the world itself. And if in the ‘Osterspiel’ and ‘Weihnachtsspiel’ (i.e. the diptych Comoedia de Christi resurrectione and the Ludus de nato Infante mirificus which, together with Die Bernauerin and Astutuli, make up the ‘Bairisches Welttheater’) Orff had already attached to ancient Greek a weighty symbolic significance, the decision to resort to the original language in the case of Prometheus was fraught with problems. Orff applied to the quantitative scanning of the verse the same ‘musico-gestural speech ductus’ (Dokumentation, viii, 1985, p.10) that he had used in the previous tragedies, opting for a free declamatory rhythm. Orff’s theatre rejects any historicizing approach. It is the intention of the composer that the eloquence of the images and the preponderance of the visible – characteristics that Prometheus makes its own – compensate for the loss of a semantic dimension. By demanding an exotic array of percussion that calls for 15 to 18 players, the orchestra ensures that many world cultures are represented. And by incorporating cluster techniques and magnetic tape (Orff approaching, in this regard at least, the avant garde) the composer manages to evoke the archaic and cultic significance of this ancient myth.
In the four works comprising the ‘Bairisches Welttheater’ the entire theatrical experience relies once again on the spoken word. A tragic dimension seeps through Die Bernauerin (1944–6). It tells the story of a young Augsburg girl who, in 1432, is secretly married to the Duke, Albrecht III, before falling victim to a political conspiracy instigated by Albrecht’s father. By distancing himself from the work of the same name by Hebbel and following the example of Schmeller’s Bayerisches Wörterbuch (1827–37) and the 15th-century Liederbuch der Clara Hätzlerin, Orff pointed up the musicality of even the most recondite forms of the ancient Bavarian language. Brief passages of music are inserted and frame the spoken parts. Earthly events are driven by higher powers of which the witches constitute the demonic aspect. And it is only in the finale – where the action, thanks to the intervention of these invisible forces, receives a cathartic urge that pushes the drama into the sphere of tragedy and of mystery plays – that the orchestra supports the declamation without interruption. In Astutuli (1946–8), the satyr-like sibling of Die Bernauerin, Orff retraces his steps to the origins of European theatre, treading the bare boards on which the Roman comedian, or joculator, used to perform. The action is punctuated only by percussion instruments; the Bavarian language brims with images and mimetic power; and the only musical number in the traditional sense is the final ‘Dreher’ of the unrepentant and gullible fools, who were cheated and robbed by the Gagler, or itinerant confidence tricksters: ‘mundus vult decipi’.
The gestation of De temporum fine comoedia, which is the epitome of Orff’s theatrical work, began while he was working on Prometheus. The score to this ‘Spiel vom Ende der Zeiten’ was completed between 1970 and 1971, with texts taken from the Oracula sibyllina, an Orphic Hymn to Oneiros, and also from the Carmina burana collection. Orff lends to a theological idea a theatrical form that was already present in Des Turmes Auferstehung: Origene’s ‘apokatástasis pánton’, namely the idea that the world returns to God with the consequence that all guilt is temporally finite. The vastness of this eschatological scenario feeds the visionary quality of this modern mystery play. And in the vision invoked by the Anachoretes one participates in the repentance of Lucifer, announced symbolically in the music by open 5ths to a blare of trumpets. There follows a transfiguring dematerialization of all musical parameters, then a canon for four viols. This symbolic mandala representing ‘Tà pánta Noûs’ (‘Everything is Spirit’) and closing with a reference to Anaxagoras, signifies both the end of the comoedia and of Orff’s creative career.
The birth of the Güntherschule must be viewed against the historical backdrop of the Neue Tanzbewegung of the first few decades of the 20th century. This anti-academic movement was personified in Germany by Rudolf von Laban and Mary Wigman, both exponents of the so-called ‘Ausdruckstanz’, or expressive dance. In Über das Geistige in der Kunst (1912), Wassily Kandinsky had already written that future dance forms would arise whose expression would rely on the internalization of movement. Indeed, the very notion of the elementare (elemental), as applied by Orff to music and to verbal and bodily expression, evokes the kind of dissection of the figurative universe into its primary elements that Kandinsky had already theorized. Orff and Dorothee Günther intended to obviate the absence of adequate elemental music in the dance schools of, among others, Dalcroze and Bode by searching for a music that ‘begins in movement’. Of decisive importance was the work of Maja Lex at the Güntherschule from 1925 onwards. She managed to devise an elemental dance style that was free from the influence of Wigman’s expressionism. Starting in 1930, Maja Lex guided the dance group of the Güntherschule to national and international success. Only after 1948, as the Schulwerk spread through broadcasts by Bavarian Radio, was full attention also paid to the relationship between sound and word, whereby rhythm remained the fundamental kinetic element behind the improvisation process. The first volume of Musik für Kinder (1950–54, 5 vols.) takes as its starting point the simplest possible poetic material, such as children’s rhymes and singing games, all rich in mimetic and gestural elements. The 20 editions of the Schulwerk, issued from the 1950s onwards, include editions in many different languages, including African languages and Japanese, each of which draws for inspiration on the musical and literary cultural heritage of the culture in question.
In creating a body of suitable instruments, especially percussion and recorders, a vital role was played by Gunild Keetman (1904–90), Orff’s alter ego where his experimentation with new teaching methods was concerned. The highly differentiated and novel use of percussion instruments – true of course for all of Orff’s work – must be considered within the historical perspective of their emancipation during the 20th century. Also noteworthy in this respect was the contribution made by two instrument makers: Karl Maendler before World War II, and after 1945, Klaus Becker, the founder of Studio 49. It was in 1949 that the Schulwerk arrived at the Mozarteum, where, in 1961, the Orff-Institut was inaugurated. From the 1950s onwards the approach began to spread around the world.
Improvisation techniques represent the essence of all experimentation; they were the pivotal idea of the Schulwerk during the very early years, and before the introduction of the now obselete ideological constructs with which theoreticians in the 1930s sought to underpin the activities of the Güntherschule. Alien to all rigid methodology, the Schulwerk aims to support creativity in the child. This is effected by the assimilation, always on the basis of elemental, easily grasped structures, of the traditional musical forms that have arisen throughout history. Theoretical debate over the last few decades has pointed up the difficulties of arriving at a satisfactory definition of the elemental, while simultaneously demonstrating the term’s precarious and ephemeral philosophical quality. The concept of the elemental preserves a certain utility if one recognizes the historical origin of the models and the cultural preconditions of ‘elementare Musik’, irrespective of the traditions to which it refers. It is necessary to identify in the elemental structures not an original essence, but rather the expression of a ‘second-order naturalness’, one filtered by historical experience. Indeed, as Orff and Keetman worked on the progressive enlargement of the melodic range of the models and the internal ordering of the five volumes of Musik für Kinder, which cover all the major modes (books 2 and 3) and all minor ones (books 4 and 5) in the sequence Bordun–Stufen–Dominanten, he studiously avoided an evolutionary portrayal of the history of music.
The efficacy of the concept of elemental music presupposes a dimension of craftsmanship which has aesthetic autonomy and requires no simplification of complex artistic means of expression. Nonetheless, at the time the first edition appeared the models used in the Schulwerk were already being misunderstood as musical ‘texts’ rather than cues for improvisation. The difficulty of applying in a creative manner the methodological suggestions of Orff and his colleagues has not prevented the Schulwerk from demonstrating its incredible vitality and powers of regeneration within ever-changing social and cultural environments, a vigour that is also confirmed by the application of this approach with handicapped children and in the field of music therapy.
Gisei, das Opfer (music drama, after Jap. drama: Terakoya, trans. K. Florenz), 1913
Ein Sommernachtstraum (after W. Shakespeare, trans. A.W. Schlegel), 1917–62, final version, Stuttgart, 12 March 1964
Klage der Ariadne (after O. Rinuccini, Ger. trans. Orff), Mannheim, 16 April 1925, rev. Gera, 30 Nov 1940 [after C. Monteverdi]
Orpheus (3, after A. Striggio, Ger. trans. D. Günther), 1923–4, Mannheim, 17 April 1925; rev. Munich, 13 Oct 1929; rev. Dresden, 4 Oct 1940 [after Monteverdi]
Tanz der Spröden (Rinuccini, Ger. trans. Günther), Karlsruhe, 28 Dec 1925, rev. Gera, 30 Nov 1940 [after Monteverdi]
Carmina burana (cantiones profanae, 3 scenes, medieval Lat.), 1936, Frankfurt, 8 June 1937
Der Mond (kleines Welttheater, 1, Orff, after J.L. and W.C. Grimm), 1936–8, Munich, 5 Feb 1939, rev. 1970
Antigonae (Trauerspiel, 5, Sophocles, trans. F. Hölderlin), 1941–9, Salzburg, 9 Aug 1949
Catulli carmina (ludi scaenici, 3 acts and Exordium, Orff, after Catullus), 1941–3, Leipzig, 6 Nov 1943
Die Kluge: die Geschichte von dem König und der klugen Frau (12 scenes, Orff, after J.L. and W.C. Grimm), 1941–2, Frankfurt, 20 Feb 1943
Die Bernauerin (bairisches Stück, 7 scenes, Orff), 1944–6, Stuttgart, 15 June 1947
Astutuli (bairische Komödie, 1, Orff), 1946–8, Munich, 20 Oct 1953
Trionfo di Afrodite (concerto scenico, 7 scenes, Catullus, Sappho and Euripides), 1949–51, Milan, 13 Feb 1953
Oedipus der Tyrann (Trauerspiel, Sophocles, trans. Hölderlin), 1951–8, Stuttgart, 11 Dec 1959
Trionfi (trittico teatrale), Milan, 13 Feb 1953 [consisting of Carmina burana, Catulli carmina, Trionfo di Afrodite]
Comoedia de Christi resurrectione (Osterspiel, Orff), 1955, TV perf., Bayerischer Rundfunk, Munich, 31 March 1956, staged, Stuttgart, 21 April 1957
Lamenti (trittico teatrale), Schwetzingen, 15 May 1958 [consisting of Klage der Ariadne, Orpheus, Tanz der Spröden]
Ludus de nato Infante mirificus (Weihnachtsspiel, Orff), 1960, Stuttgart, 11 Dec 1960
Prometheus desmotes (1, Orff, after Aeschylus), 1963–7, Stuttgart, 24 March 1968
De temporum fine comoedia (Bühnenspiel, 3 pts, Orff), 1970–71, Salzburg, 20 Aug 1973, rev. 1979, final version, 1981, Ulm, 15 May 1994
Vocal: Lieder (various), 1v, pf, 1911–21; Zarathustra, Bar, male vv, orch, 1911–12; 3 Lieder (R. Dehmel), T, orch, 1918–19; Des Turmes Auferstehung (cant., F. Werfel), 2 Bar, orch, org, 1920 [rev. male vv, orch, org, 1921]; Cantata (Werkbuch I) (Werfel), chorus, pf, perc, 1930–32, rev. 1968; Cantata (Werkbuch II) (B. Brecht), chorus, pf, perc, 1930–31, rev. 1968–73; Catulli carmina I, 1930; Catulli carmina II, 1931; Concento di voci, chorus, 1931–56: Sirmio; Laudes creatorum; Sunt lacrimae rerum; Cantus-Firmus Sätze, 2–4vv, opt. insts, 1932, rev. 1954 [from Orff-Schulwerk]; Dithyrambi (F. Schiller), chorus, insts, 1955–6, rev. 1981; Stücke, speaking chorus, 1969; Rota, chorus, insts, 1972 [after Sumer is icumen in]; Sprechstücke, spkr, speaking chorus, perc, 1976
Inst: Tanzende Faune, orch, 1914; Leonce und Lena (incid music, G. Büchner), orch, 1919; Kleines Konzert, wind, hpd, perc, 1927, rev. orch, 1937 [based on 16th-century themes]; Entrata, orch, org, 1928, rev. 1940 [after Byrd: The Bells]
Collections: Orff-Schulwerk: elementare Musikübung (Mainz, 1931–4), collab. G. Keetman; Musik für Kinder, 5 vols. (Mainz, 1950–54), collab. Keetman
Principal publisher: Schott
Bairisches Welttheater (Munich, 1972) [texts of Die Bernauerin, Astutuli, Comoedia de Christi resurrectione, Ludus de nato Infante mirificus]
with W. Thomas and others: Carl Orff und sein Werk – Dokumentation, 8 vols. (Tutzing, 1975–83)
ed. H.J. Jans: Welttheater: Carl Orff und sein Bühnenwerk: Texte von Carl Orff aus der ‘Dokumentation’ (Tutzing, 1996)
Grove6 (H. Krellmann/J. Horton) [incl. further bibliography]
GroveO (E. Levi) [incl. further bibliography]
MGG1 (E. Laaff)
Riemann12 (W. Thomas)
T. Georgiades: ‘Zur Antigonae-Interpretation von Carl Orff’, ÖMz, iv (1949), 191–4
W.Zillig: ‘Carl Orff’, Variationen über Neue Musik (Munich, 1959), 199–215
W.Keller: ‘Carl Orff’, Stilporträts der Neuen Musik (Berlin, 1961), 42–55
G.Orff: Die Orff-Musiktherapie: aktive Förderung der Entwicklung des Kindes (Munich, 1974; Eng. trans., 1980)
G.Keetman: ‘Erinnerungen an die Güntherschule’, Orff-Schulwerk-Informationen, xxiii (1979), 5–12
L.Gersdorf: Carl Orff (Reinbek, 1980)
K.Pahlen: Carl Orff: Der Mond, Die Kluge (Mainz, 1981)
U.Klement: Das Musiktheater Carl Orffs (Leipzig, 1982)
H.Regner: Das Schulwerk Carl Orffs im Spiegel der Zeit (Bonn, 1982)
H.Leuchtmann, ed.: Carl Orff: ein Gedenkbuch (Tutzing, 1985)
S. Kunze: ‘Die Antike in der Musik des 20. Jahrhunderts’, Thyssen-Vorträge: Auseinandersetzung mit der Antike (Bamberg, 1985–90), 163–201
Symposion-Orff: Munich 1987
F.Dangel-Hoffman, ed.: Carl Orff-Michel Hofmann: Briefe zur Entstehung der Carmina burana (Tutzing, 1990)
S.Kunze: ‘Carl Orffs Tragödien-Bearbeitungen: Vision des Anfänglichen’, Antike Mythen im Musiktheater des 20. Jahrhunderts: gesammelte Vorträge des Salzburger Symposions 1989 (Salzburg, 1990), 259–79
W.Thomas: Das Rad der Fortuna: ausgewählte Aufsätze zu Werk und Wirkung Carl Orffs (Mainz, 1990)
U.E.Jungmair: Das Elementare: zur Musik- und Bewegungserziehung im Sinne Carl Orffs (Mainz, 1992)
A.Fassone: Carl Orff (Lucca, 1994)
H.Gassner: Carl Orff: Fotodokumente 1978–81 (Munich, 1994)
W.Thomas: Orffs Märchenstücke (Mainz, 1994)
H.Maier: Carl Orff in his Time (Mainz, 1995)
G.Möller: Das Schlagwerk bei Carl Orff: Aufführungspraxis der Bühnen-, Orchester- und Chorwerke (Mainz, 1995)
V.Greisenegger-Georgila and H.J.Jans: Was ist die Antike wert? Griechen und Römer auf der Bühne von Caspar Neher (Vienna, 1995)
F.Willnauer, ed.: Carmina Burana von Carl Orff: Entstehung, Wirkung, Text (Mainz, 1995)
H.J.Jans, ed.: Welttheater: Carl Orff und sein Bühnenwerk (Tutzing, 1996)
R.M.Camp: The Drama of Carl Orff from ‘unerwünscht’ to Post-modernity (diss, U. of Iowa, 1995)
W. Thomas: “Dem unbekannten Gott”: ein nicht ausgeführtes Chorwerk von Carl Orff (Mainz, 1997)
S.Kunze: ‘Orffs Tragödien-Bearbeitungen und die Moderne’, De musica (Tutzing, 1998)
M.H. Kater: Composers of the Nazi Era: Eight Portraits (New York, 2000)