The term Carmina Burana refers to a corpus of some 200 poems, some of which are accompanied by a musical score. Written between the 12th and 13th century, these poems and songs constitute the Codex Buranus, a manuscript found in a South German monastery in the city of Beuren. This manuscript is the most important extant medieval Latin collection of lyrical poetry. Incidentally, this is the material that inspired Carl Orff to compose his well-known Cantata Carmina Burana (1937), although this cantata has nothing to do with the musical material of the Carmina Burana.

In this manuscript, one can find songs of every type: moralistic, satirical, and amorous; celebrations of wine and gambling, side by side with religious hymns. It also contains varied and risqué themes involving clergymen and goliards (mostly clerical students who protested the growing contradictions within the Church such as failure of the Crusades and financial abuses, expressing themselves through song, poetry, and performance ). The Carmina Burana thus simultaneously displays the erudition and irreverence of the clergymen and students who wrote it.

The satires of the Carmina Burana are especially hard-hitting. These satires denounce the ties between the clerical and political establishments of the day, thereby often placing their writers at grave risk from the powerful subjects of their ridicule.

In the Carmina Burana, Walter of Châtillon, the presenter, is based on an actual historical figure, a 12th-century French writer, theologian, university professor in Paris, and teacher in Rome. Throughout the work, Walter of Châtillon provides biographical sketches of the poets, their adventures in prisons, taverns, and—along with their companions—on the open road.

Today’s concert begins with Orientis Partibus (Song of the Ass). Although the Orientis Partibus does not actually belong to the song cycle of the Carmina Burana, it was popular during the early Middle Ages. Loaded with symbolism, this song revolves around the ass, a rich and well-loved character that captured the popular imagination of that age. The ass in this song simultaneously represents innocence and ignorance, meekness and stubbornness. It constituted the centerpiece of such celebrations as the winter solstice’s Feast of the Ass, where, among other things, a donkey was enthroned. For one night--the longest night of the year, a night marking the point of return of solar light--the poor ruled and the rich served in a spirit of hullabaloo and hype, celebrating the instincts, ingenuity, and personality of the donkey.

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Auditorio "El Pitío". Villa turismo. Subida Tres Cipreses
El Bolsón. Río Negro. República Argentina
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