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The hour-long cantata, much performed and recorded, is an exuberant setting of some twenty poems in Medieval Latin and Middle High German from a thirteenth-century manuscript found at the Bavarian monastery of Benediktbeuern sometimes spelt Benediktbeuren, which is unusual though I understand to be historically defensible.
The manuscript contains about essentially secular lyrics by various authors, of varying degrees of literary merit, and covering a range of themes including satire, literary and liturgical parody, love songs, drinking songs, and stories from the classics.
As the largest surviving anthology of Medieval Latin poetry, the contents of the manuscript represent the last outpourings of poets who still used that lingua franca of Christendom as fluently as their individual native tongues. The following translation of the songs selected by Orff are not intended to be word-for-word renderings. The authoritative modern edition occupies five books edited by Alfons Hilka, Otto Schumann and Bernhard Bischoff and published, respectively, in , , , , and My published translations are based on the modern edition, but where Orff's interpretation has been significantly affected by that of Schmeller I have reverted to the latter.
The contents of the Carmina Burana fall into five sections. They account for about 20 per cent of the extant text. CB1, of which only the last lines are preserved, must have been preceded by an unknown quantity of other poems in the same category perhaps even by an entire section, devoted, for example, to hymns and religious poetry of a pious rather than satirical nature.
CB56 - , collectively referred to as "Love Songs", form the largest section of the manuscript, accounting for just under 50 per cent of actual text. The section was originally longer, since at least one gathering of folios is known to be missing. These include also songs of spring and nature, which Orff counted as a separate section as have I.
CB - constitute the "Drinking and Gaming Songs" and form about 12 per cent of the text. A fourth category may be distinguished for the two religious plays constituting CB and CB Ovid and especially his erotic elegies were reproduced, imitated and exaggerated in the Carmina Burana.
CB 76, for example, makes use of the first-person narrative to describe a ten-hour love act with the goddess of love herself, Venus. CB describes, for example, an ordo vagorum vagrant order to which people from every land and clerics of all rankings were invited—even presbyter cum sua matrona, or "a priest with his lady wife" humorous because Catholic priests must swear an oath of celibacy.
CB even provides an example of the religious rites of this order, the Officium lusorum, the "Service", or "Mass", "of the Gamblers". In this parody world, the rules of priesthood include sleeping in, eating heavy food and drinking rich wine, and regularly playing dice games. These rules were described in such detail that older research on the Carmina Burana took these descriptions literally and assumed there actually existed such a lazy order of priests.
Additionally, the attached folio contains German stanzas that mention specific authors, so they can be ascribed to German Minnesinger Dietmar von Aist died c. The only signed poems are contained in the attached folio, and they are by the so-called Marner , a wandering poet and singer from Swabia. Many poems stem from works written in Classical antiquity by Ovid , Horace , Juvenal , and Ausonius ; however, about two-thirds of the poems appear not to be derivative works.
Presumably these individuals scrounged and begged for a living, which might explain why a good portion of the moral songs are dedicated to condemning those who aren't generous alms givers e. The authors demonstrate a broad knowledge of ancient mythology, which they employ to rich effect through metonymy and allegorical references, and which they effortlessly weave into scenes from the Bible. Lyaeus, for example, the mythical god of wine Dionysus , casually makes an appearance at the Marriage at Cana in CB where Jesus performed the miracle of transforming water into wine John 2: Rediscovery and history of publication[ edit ] Benediktbeuern Abbey The manuscript was discovered in the monastery at Benediktbeuren in by librarian Johann Christoph von Aretin.
The ordering scheme used today was proposed in by Alfons Hilka and Otto Schumann in the first critical text edition of the Carmina Burana. He also was able to revise illegible portions of the text by comparing them to similar works. However, it is possible to identify many of those melodies by comparing them with melodies notated in staffed neumes in other contemporary manuscripts from the schools of Notre Dame and Saint Martial.
The single song " O Fortuna " the Roman goddess of luck and fate , from the movement "Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi", is often heard in many popular settings such as films. Orff's composition has been performed by many ensembles. This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.
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