Conducted by Richard Cock. Carl Heinrich Maria Orff (1895 – 1982) was a German composer, best known for his cantata Carmina Burana (1937). In addition to his career as a composer, Orff developed an influential approach toward music education for children. Orff studied at the Munich Academy of Music until 1914, he then served in the German Army during World War I. Afterwards, he held various positions at opera houses in Mannheim and Darmstadt, later returning to Munich to pursue his music studies.
In 1934, Orff encountered the 1847 edition of the Carmina Burana by Johann Andreas Schmeller, the original text dating mostly from the 11th or 12th century, including some from the 13th century. Michel Hofmann, then a young law student and Latin and Greek enthusiast, assisted Orff in the selection and organization of 24 of these poems into a libretto, mostly in Latin verse, with a small amount of Middle High German, Old Provençal, and Old French. The selection covers a wide range of topics, as familiar in the 13th century as they are in the 21st century: the fickleness of fortune and wealth, the ephemeral nature of life, the joy of the return of Spring, and the pleasures and perils of drinking, gluttony, gambling and lust.
Leonard Bernstein (1918 – 1990) was an American composer, conductor, author, music lecturer, and pianist. His fame derived from his long tenure as the music director of the New York Philharmonic, from his conducting of concerts with most of the world’s leading orchestras, and from his music for West Side Story, his Mass, and a range of other compositions, including three symphonies and many shorter chamber and solo works. Bernstein was the first conductor to give a series of television lectures on classical music, starting in 1954 and continuing until his death. As a composer he wrote in many styles encompassing symphonic and orchestral music, ballet, film and theatre music, choral works, opera, chamber music and pieces for the piano.
Chichester Psalms is a choral work by Leonard Bernstein for boy treble or countertenor, solo quartet, choir and orchestra (3 trumpets in B♭, 3 trombones, timpani, percussion [5 players], 2 harps, and strings). A reduction written by the composer pared down the orchestral performance forces to organ, one harp, and percussion. The work was commissioned for the 1965 Southern Cathedrals Festival at Chichester Cathedral by the cathedral’s organist, John Birch, and the Dean, Walter Hussey. However, the world premiere took place in the Philharmonic Hall, New York on July 15, 1965 with the composer conducting, followed by the performance in the Chichester Festival on July 31, conducted by John Birch.