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Carl Orff

Carmina Burana Lyrics

Carmina Burana

The Manuscript

The title "Carmina Burana" literally means 'songs of Beuren' and was given by Johann Andreas Schmeller to his complete edition (1847) of the poems contained in an early 13th-century German manuscript (found in 1803) from the Benedictine abbey of Benediktbeuern, south of Munich in the Bavarian region.

You will find most Carmina Burana liner notes refer to Benediktbeuren which is mis-spelt. This was verified in the Britannica and Hallwag's atlas of Germany, actually published in Germany and should be reliable sources. The reason many CDs get it wrong is that the ending "-beuren" is very common in Germany. This one is an exception. It's about 100km from Munich, almost due south (slightly west), and about halfway to Innsbruck.

Since then, the manuscript has been known by that title even though it is now generally agreed that it probably did not originate in Benediktbeuern and may have come rather from Seckau. The manuscript is perhaps the most important source for Latin secular poetry of the 12th-Century goliardic repertory. There are some poems in German, and several of the poems have music written in unheighted neumes – a relatively rare style of notation at the time. In total, the manuscript contains approximately 250 poems.

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