Carmina Burana (includes O Fortuna)
Carl Orff


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If you're a child of the 1970s, it may well have been the Old Spice advert. If you hail from a younger generation, it will almost certainly be The X Factor. Or maybe you remember its regular comical use in Only Fools and Horses. One thing's for sure, though: the vast majority of people who know and love the famous 'O Fortuna' that opens Carl Orff's Carmina Burana have first come across it not through a performance of the work, but via its use in countless television shows, commercials and films.

At less than three minutes, O Fortuna is only one very small part of this mammoth, secular cantata. Composed in the 1930s and inspired by a set of medieval poems, Carmina Burana was first performed in Frankfurt in June 1937, to great acclaim. Orff knew he had a hit on his hands, and he was fortunate enough to see the work's rapid rise in popularity during the course of his own lifetime.