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Carl Orff’s Music for Children

Author John Cech
Air Date 11/1/1999

Carl Orff’s Music for Children Transcript

Brief Sound Clip

You’re hearing a section from one of the most delightful musical albums ever made for young people — Carl Orff’s “Music for Children,” which was first released in the late 1950s. We wore out two copies of this recording around our household and always expected that there would be a CD version to replace our scratched up records by the time we became grandparents. That day is soon approaching and this incredible music is still unavailable to the general public.

Carl Orff, the German composer, was born in 1895 and and died in 1982, He is best known for his sensuous, sensual Carmina Burana, a dynamic celebration of ancient medieval music and song about life and love and loss and love. But it’s not generally remembered that, through the 1920s and 30s, until his work was halted by the Nazis, Orff developed a highly sophisticated approach for teaching music to children through rhythm and poetry, dance and simple instruments. Orff began with the human voice, and with the earliest songs that that voice sings in childhood — nursery rhymes, street calls, game songs, and lullabies. His central idea was to find the music in the simplest things, in that which is overlooked and forgotten. Orff also believed that children themselves should learn to make beautiful music from these basic elements.

“Music for Children” was a testament to this form of expressiveness that Orff thought was a birthright; children do all the singing, play all the instruments, and they let us marvel as they build their compositions from familiar, straight-ahead rhymes, to lyrical chorales and polyrhythmic cascades, until we reach a sublime conclusion — on that would sweep our family away with sheer delight, day after day. If you have young children or grandchildren or nieces and nephews about, look for this album at your used record store or at golden oldies sales, and if you find it, don’t ever let it out of sight or ear shot. Make tapes for the nursery, the car, the cabin, the kitchen; and let its pure magic wash over you and yours.

Posted in Music