Carmina Burana


This manuscript contains 318 songs, most of them in Latin, some in German. Their content is almost exclusively profane: didactic moralizing poems and satires, love songs and spring songs, and drinking and gaming verses are here brought together in the most comprehensive and important collection of lyric poetry from the 12th and early 13th centuries. The songs seem to be derived from various sources, some of them probably originating with itinerant scholars. In addition to these songs, the manuscript contains two Latin plays: a Nativity play and a Passion play. Occasionally, the songs have melodies added in the form of neumes. Eight illustrations, most of them at the ends of groups of songs of like content, are inserted. Three scribes worked on the manuscript, which, according to script and language must have been produced in the area of the southern Alps. There is evidence for the presence of this manuscript in the monastery of Benediktbeuern only from the 18th century onwards. In 1803, when the monastery was dissolved, the manuscript was discovered by Johann Christoph von Aretin. The songs from Benediktbeuern were popularized by the composer Carl Orff (1895−1982), who later turned them into a cantata entitled Carmina Burana (1937).

Last updated: April 3, 2015