Carl Orff Chronology

1895: Born in Munich on July 10

1900: First piano lessons; later cello and organ

1901–12: Academic and music education in Munich schools

1910–12: Teenage compositions: songs and orchestral works

1912–14:  Studies at the Munich Academy of Music

1913–19: Employed at opera houses; tries his hand at various musical forms

1917: World War I service: narrowly escapes death on Eastern (Russian) front when a trench collapses on him; returns to Munich

1919–23: Studies composers of 16th and 17th Centuries; composes larger scale orchestral works; also songs for voice and piano; teaches private pupils

1920–25: First marriage to Alice Solscher

1921: Birth of only daughter, Godela

1921–23: Studies Monteverdi’s “L’Orfeo,” premiered in 1607, and other works; creates new dramaturgical and musical version; stages his “Orpheus” production (first version, 1925; second version, 1929)

1924: Güntherschule (Guenther School) for young women, co-founded by Dorothee Günter, to teach inclusive gymnastics, rhythm, music, and dance; Orff appointed as Director of Department for Dance and Music

1926: Collaboration with Gunild Keetman begins at Güntherschule; they explore “elemental music” in workshops; Orff instruments adopted or constructed – xylophone, metallophone, recorder, guitar, drums, etc.

1926–31: Composes or arranges numerous works, many of “archaic” music, including: Monteverdi’s “Ballo delle Ingrate” (1608); “Tanz der Spröden” (first version); “Kleines Konzert” for harpsichord, flute, oboe, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, and percussion based on 16th Century lute pieces; “Entrata” (after William Byrd) for five-choir orchestra and organ; 2nd version of “Orpheus”; cantatas after texts by the poet Franz Werfel; “Catulli Carmina I and II,” choral pieces after texts by Bertolt Brecht

1931–34: Publication of “Elementare Musikübung” in collaboration with Gunild Keetman (1st Orff-Schulwerk)

1932-36: Arrangements of Bavarian folk music with Kurt Huber; first performance of the “St. Luke Passion”; conductor of the Munich Bach Society (1932-33); Bach Society presents Heinrich Schütz’s “Historia der Auferstehung Jesu Christi”

1937: “Carmina Burana” world premiere in Frankfurt am Main; based on texts of profane medieval poems (it’s racy!), with dance accompaniment

1939–53: Second marriage to Gertrud Willert

1939–44: Nazi Germany begins World War II; Orff continues with new work and public concert performances

1944–45: Güntherschule pressured to close. Allied air raid destroys building, all teaching materials, instruments, costumes, and school archive.

1945: World War II ends; Orff cleared in American denazification interview

1946-73: Composes or completes 18 major works for the stage over the next two decades; many employ Orff instruments in the orchestra such as tuned wooden xylophones, marimbas, unusual bells, gongs, etc.; his massive theatrical works rarely staged as Orff envisioned with full complement of dance, movement, dramatic exclamation, and effects

1948: First Bavarian Radio Schulwerk broadcast, “Die Weihnachtsgeschichte” (The Christmas Story); text by Orff, music composed by Keetman

1950–54: Publication of “Musik für Kinder” with Gunild Keetman (2nd Orff-Schulwerk)

1950–60: Teaches composition at the Munich Staatliche Hochschule für Musik

1954–59: Third marriage to Luise Rinser, a writer and fervent anti-Nazi

1956: “Comoedia de Christi Resurrectione”, first broadcast by the Bavarian Television Channel; uses “Orff Bavarian” dialog based on the dialect

1959: Honorary doctorate from University of Tübingen

1960: Fourth marriage to Liselotte Schmitz

1961: Center founded for Orff-Schulwerk at the Mozarteum, Salzburg, Austria

1962–63: Orff/Keetman Schulwerk lecture tours in Canada, Japan, and Portugal

1963: Inauguration of the Orff-Institute in Salzburg

1972-74: Honorary doctorate from the University of Munich; numerous official honors, including Grand Cross with star and ribbon for Distinguished Service of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany

1975–81: Worked on “Carl Orff und sein Werk” (Carl Orff and His Work) in eight volumes

1982: Died March 29 in Munich