Which songs are similar to O Fortuna

Carmina's secret of success

I. Fortuna Imperatix Mundi

Right at the beginning, in the first four bars, the choir raises its voice and belts out its passionate accusation against Fortuna in fortissimo. It is the desperate rebellion of a person who cannot defend himself against his fate. The capricious goddess recklessly inflicts wounds, sometimes spoiled, sometimes mistreated. She controls the wheel of fortune at her own discretion. Whoever is up today may have fallen tomorrow. The people are helplessly at her mercy.

The audience is drawn into this tremendous appeal to Fortuna. This is followed by almost eighty bars in which the wickedness and unpredictability of Fortuna are persistently and poundingly enumerated in a constant staccato. At the end of the song, the disappointed man raises his voice again in fortissimo and asks like-minded people to join in his accusation.

This Fortuna song is reminiscent of the work of the Roman philosopher and scholar of late antiquity (6th century), Boethius, who, sitting in a dungeon, accuses Fortuna of her unpredictability and faithlessness (more on this in the symbolism chapter)

It follows a second Fortuna songwhich is similar to the first one in terms of content, but differs musically. Orff chose the stanza division in which the choir parts start one after the other. They are opened by the basses, which present their lament legato, which makes it more like a lamentation than an indictment. The tenor voices follow and, together with the basses, they continue the lamentation in the Pinano. Only when the female voices join in and the entire choir repeats the lamentation in the forte, staccato, does it resemble the character of the first Fortuna song. The stanzas each end with a lively instrumental part.

1. O Fortuna(O destiny): Complaint about Fortuna's unpredictability and arbitrariness

2. Fortune plango vulnera (The wounds that Fortuna inflicted): Second complaint about the impermanence of happiness and Fortuna's constantly turning wheel, which puts an end to happiness for no reason, through no fault of your own.


The two lamentations are followed by three groups of songs in which a series of colorful scenes passes the listeners. Medieval life and hustle and bustle under Fortuna's rule are depicted in pictures. People enjoy the joys of life to the fullest and with irrepressible lust, knowing full well that their present happiness may soon change.


II. Primo Vere - In spring

Spring begins and people strive out into the awakening nature, dancing, singing and flirting with one another. First feelings of love arise. We hear lovely dancing songs with catchy melodies and rhythms that are reminiscent of simple folk songs and round dances with constant dance figures. Musical variations and contrasts result, among other things. by changing the tempos, the dynamics, the voices, the forms of articulation, the characters and the types of presentation.

3. Veris leta facies (Spring's cheerful face): Joy of the newly awakened nature in spring, round dance of the young women. (Alternating vocals between low and high choir voices)

4. Omnia sol temperat (Everything warms up the sun) The world is renewed in spring, and men’s longing for love grows. A man is afraid for his beloved and asks her to be loyal to him. (Baritone solo)

5. Ecce gratum (On to say hello) Call to greet spring. The desire grows to give in to budding desires and reach for amorous adventures. (Alternating singing between male voices and the overall choir)


Uf dem Anger - On the festival meadow

6. Dance: Lively folk dance (purely instrumental)

7. Floret silva (The noble forest will bloom): Lamentation of a girl in spring missing her lover. (A capella choir song with lively character changes and long sighs, first bilingual song: Latin and Middle High German)

8. Chramer, gip the varwe me (Chandler, give me the color): A girl asks for color on her cheeks to please the men. (three-verse choir song in soprano with instrumental accompaniment, Middle High German text)

9a. Reie (Dance): The boys' song of mockery about the brittle behavior of girls who want to stay without men. (Contrast between calm step dance (without singing) and the lively alternating singing between female and male voices)

9b. Chume, chum, journeyman min (Come, come my beloved) Reciprocal promotional song by boys and girls (lyrical alternating vocals between alto and male voices with Middle High German text)

9c. Reie (Dance): Repetition of the mocking song from 9a.

10. Were diu wold all min (If the world were all mine): "And if the whole world were mine, from the sea to the Rhine, I would give up all of that if the Queen of England were in my arms." This is possibly Eleanor of Aquitaine, the wife of Henry II of England, who was considered a beautiful seductress. (Single-verse choir song with all voices)


III. In taberna: In the tavern

While some enjoy the spring outdoors, drinkers and gamblers are drawn to the tavern: there is a lot going on there. Ironically, but without scruples, they acknowledge the earthly enjoyment of alcohol and gambling and their consequences. We experience four scenes that are reserved for male voices.

11. Estuans interius(Full of hot shame and remorse): In his ironic “confession” a man defiantly confesses, without remorse or shame, to his joyous, unconstrained life in this world, its debauchery and vices, instead of waiting for the salvation of the soul in the afterlife by virtue of a virtuous way of life. This text was known as the “vagante confession” in the Middle Ages and can be found in 35 other medieval manuscripts. Orff took over the first five stanzas and set them to music. (Baritone solo in the style of a dramatic operatic aria)

12. Olim lacus colueram(At one point I was the adornment of the lake): Alcohol and gambling make you hungry. A splendid swan, the ornament of every feast in the Middle Ages, was needed. A pitiful swan with a breaking tenor voice that constantly tips over into falsetto laments his lost beauty in the pan (Grotesque tenor solo with choral refrains of the male voices)

13. Ego sum abbas (I am the abbot) The self-appointed abbot of "Cucania" (paradise on earth) declares himself head of the order of drunkards and dice players. He frankly and unscrupulously confesses that he is pulling his fellow players down to his shirt through his cheating. With a powerful bass-baritone voice, he shows his power in the tavern. The injured players interrupt his monologue with heckling "To arms!" (Parodistic baritone solo with heckling of the male voices)

14. In taberna quando sumus(When we sit in the tavern) A “conspiratorial” community of habitual drinkers proudly and cheekily defends their vice. In a fast, accentuated staccato rhythm, like liturgical intercessions, she lists in a formulaic manner who raises the glass to whom and how often. (Parodistic choir song of the male voices)


IV. Cours d’amours: court of lovers

Now pure love and life instincts break out. Innocent, tender courtship alternates with crackling, erotic tension and with the passions of physical love. Delicate children's sopranos alternate with coloratura arias from the solo voices and fast-paced, expressive choral singing. And when the couples have finally found each other, they happily sing the hymn to the goddesses of love.

15. Amor volat undique (Cupid's arrows everywhere) Spherical sounds when Cupid shoots his arrows. While people are flirting with each other everywhere, the loneliness of a woman who remains alone is particularly bitter at night. (Alternating children's sopranos and soprano solo)

16. This, nox et omnia (Day and night and always) Lamentation of love from a disappointed man who pains the chats of beautiful girls and who longs for a kiss from his beloved. (Baritone solo and orchestra)

17. Stetit puella (Stood there a girl) The mock innocence of a flirtatious girl with a blooming mouth and a red dress that crackles when you touch it. (Soprano solo with orchestra)

18. Circa mea pectora (All around the bottom of my heart) A man is courting an innocent girl more and more, compliments her on her beauty and her shining eyes, hoping to conquer her “innocent castle”. The girl (Female voices) replies three times: Manda liet, manda liet, min Geselle kummet niet (possible translation: men people, men people, my lover is not coming.) The translation is not clear, and it is not clear whether the girl's answers are to be understood as rejection or invitation. (Baritone solo + separate male and female voices + orchestra)

19. Si puer cum puellula (When a boy with the girl) Young men tell each other what happens when they make love: boy and girl are together in the little room, love grows, they overcome shame and unite. (Male singing)

20. Veni, veni, venias (Come on, come on, come on now) Two lovers court each other, push for love and union until the fulfillment finally takes place. (Shared choir and orchestra)

21. In trutina (On the scales of my heart) A woman weighs between carelessness and shame and ultimately decides in favor of lust. (Soprano solo and orchestra)

22. Tempus est iocundum (The time is joyful) Men and women urge them to finally live out their “love glow” together. (Complete choir + children's choir + baritone + soprano solo in mutual or joint singing)

23. Dulcissime (You sweetest) "You sweetest, I give myself completely to you!" (Soprano solo + orchestra)

Blanziflor et Helena

24. Ave formosissima (Greetings you most beautiful, you) The climax of the love scenes is a solemn hymn to the worship of beautiful women, who are symbolically given the names of the mythical love goddesses Blanziflor, Helena and Venus. (Complete choir + orchestra in fortissimo)

Blanziflor iis a figure from a poem “Floire et Blancheflor” written in 1160 by an unknown French troubadour, which at that time had already been translated into many languages. Blancheflor was the mistress of the Arab prince Floire. Their love was so great that they overcame all strokes of fate.

Helena Considered the most beautiful woman of antiquity, she was kidnapped from Paris and brought to Troy, which triggered the Trojan War. She later returned to her husband, who had always remained loyal to her.

Venus was the Roman goddess of love, erotic desire and beauty


V. Fortuna Imperatix Mundi

Instead of the goddesses of love, Fortuna appears and puts an end to happiness. The wheel returns to the starting point. Fortuna is charged again and the cycle of life begins all over again.

25. O Fortuna (O fate): Another complaint about Fortuna's unpredictability and arbitrariness


Information sources:

Wikipedia: Music History

Moser: Music history, Reclam publishing house

Susanne Gläß: Carmina Burana, Bärenreiter-Verlag

Werner Thomas: The wheel of Fortuna, Schott-Verlag