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Orff, Carmina Burana: Reduced orchestration


In the interest of sharing information so that it can appear in
Choralist searches, here is a quick summary of what people have said
about Carmina Burana orchestrations. Thank you to all who responded.

1. No one knew of any reduced orchestra version other than the one for
2 pianos and percussion published by Schott. It is possible this
version is by Orff himself, though I have not been able to confirm that

2. Those who have performed the reduced version are universally
enthusiastic. It works particularly well when the chorus is relatively
small (most people used 40-50 singers). One person said he had added
some flute parts when he had a good flute student he wanted to involve.
Another said that the reduced orchestration was fine except in the two
movements for orchestra alone, when it sounded thin. Most people said
that the percussion players need to be highly skilled, though one person
said it had worked with high school students who had coached in advance
with a professional percussionist. One person used a pipe organ in
place of one of the pianists; his organist was helpful in deciding how
to divide things up. There is evidently a recording on BIS; the number
is BIS-CD-734.

David Janower added this note, which Schott may not thank either of us
for sharing:

BTW, I made an "edition" of all four chorus parts, so they could see
others' parts for cues, and so my altos could double my tenors
Schott gave me permission, since I already own the choral parts, so I
and pasted the SATB score form the vocal score (i.e., I cut out the
piano). I
also wrote translation in along the top and bottom so they'd know what
are singing. And Schott didn't charge me a thing!

I hope this proves helpful to all.

You may be interested in knowing that at least 3 of the respondents had
either just performed the piece in this version or were about to this
week! So apparently Carmina lives on, in various incarnations.


David Schildkret, Dean
Salem College School of Music
PO Box 10548
Winston-Salem, NC 27108

PHONE: 336-721-2637 FAX: 336-721-2683 E-MAIL:


Thanks to all who replied to my query - how many percussionists are used in the two piano/percussion version of Carmina. The answer is that it is scored for five plus timpani. We have colleagues who have used as few as one (the question is how many arms does that person have).

Seasons greetings to all.

;) Kayla Werlin
Longmeadow (Mass.) High School
Mak'hela (Western Massachusetts Jewish Chorus)