O Fortuna!

Classical kitsch, guilty pleasure or a magisterial classic? Views on Carl Orff's globally renowned Carmina Burana may differ, but both advocates and critics concur on one point: it is a gripping work that leaves no one untouched.

Orff found the inspiration for Carmina Burana within an extensive compilation of poems dating back to the Middle Ages. The themes covered by the writers (wandering monks) are nothing short of surprising: encompassing lust, eroticism, drinking, gambling, and decadent depictions of spring. Furthermore, there are irreverent satires targeting church figures and stories that evoke the essence of traditional mediaeval mystery plays.

In just over an hour, Orff spins this compelling cosmic wheel of fortune, through three musical tableaux that depict all aspects of life. The power of the work certainly springs from the lyrics, which are raw, down-to-earth, funny and at times surprisingly confrontational and vivid. Yet, its greatest strength lies in the music itself. Right from the outset with the iconic tones of 'O Fortuna,' the music captivates with its forceful, rhythmic, and inspired melodies, employing a simple yet direct musical language. While comparisons can be drawn to early Stravinsky, Carmina Burana stands out as a sheer delight to sing, play, and conduct, and most importantly, to listen to and experience.


Carl Orff
Carmina Burana (1937)

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programme notes

Immerse yourself in the music with the programme notes by Jasper Croonen.


Carmina Burana Pub Quiz

As the grand finale of season 23-24, Brussels Philharmonic is hosting a quintessentially Belgian quiz with a musical twist. Quizmaster for the evening will be Bent Van Looy, firing off questions, and, as befits a proper quiz, the Flagey bar will remain open all night. Register your team of (max.) five, and you might find yourselves leading the way to the long table of prizes.

23.06 at Flagey

Podcast Classics Explained

Although inspired by an obscure book of poetry from an even more obscure religious sect, the message in Carl Orff's Carmina Burana is surprisingly relevant to modern audiences: no one is immune to the whims of Lady Luck.

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A unique formula for (grand) parents and (grand) children age 7 to 12 to experience a concert together.

22 & 23.06 at Flagey


introduction at 14:15

€46 > €5

Heilig-Kruisplein | 1050 Brussels


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