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Carmina Burana and Allied Bombing


February 4, 2015
1:15pm - 2:45pm
Hoffmann Room, Busch Hall
February 4, 2015
1:15pm - 2:45pm
Hoffmann Room, Busch Hall

In Carmina Burana, the most performed work in the classical repertoire, Carl Orff found inspiration in Nazi aesthetics, during the same months as he produced music for the dance school he had co-founded, to accompany 6,000 youths dancing at the opening of the 1936 Olympics. Painter's paper explores the sudden popularity of Carmina Burana from October 1940 until Goebbels closed public performance spaces in August 1944: 24 productions in large cities, 9 productions at minor venues.
Brevity, percussive scoring, and optional staging made Carmina Burana a practical choice, especially after 1942, when major opera houses faced requirements to stage two post-1933 works per ten new productions. Also, the potent mix of dark fate—in the celebrated framing choruses “O Fortuna!”—with driving optimism through the remaining numbers, was deemed useful for audiences in the wake of allied bombing. Painter focuses on a Darmstadt “farm” production only weeks after the Fall of Stalingrad; and performances that followed major air raids: Hannover, Cologne, and Munich.

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