Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi
Primo Vere
Uf Dem Anger
In Taberna
Cour D'Amours
Blanziflor et Helena

Uf dem anger (On the Lawn)

Uf Dem Anger is the third part of Carl Orff's brilliant Carmina Burana- a work which sets poems written by defrocked 13th century monks and scholars to modern orchestral and choral music. Uf Dem Anger means "On the lawn". It consists of five movements, "Tanz", "Floret Silva Nobilis", "Chramer, gip die varwe mir", "Reie" and "Were diu werlt alle min". The text is in a mix of Latin and Middle High German. After an initial stately dance, the other movements are worldly descriptions of the contemporary dating game. The bountifulness of nature in spring and summer is contrasted with the frustrations of young love, and the final movement is a quaint fantasy.

I present below the text of the poems with an English translation, and intersperse my comments on the music.

6. Tanz

This movement is left to the orchestra. It contains an short introduction and and three main themes. I'll call these I, A, B and C. The themes occur in the following sequence: I,A,B,A,C,A,B,A. The short intro, I, begins with three clear chords from the brass and ends with a sudden descending line on the timpani.

The A theme then begins immediately. It is driven by the strings- some bowing and some plucking. The rhythm is disjointed- a bar of 4/4, then 3/8, then 4/4 and then two 3/8s. This has a similar effect to a vinyl record skipping. The 4/4 bars have strong off-beats, and the 3/8 bars have three equal beats.

The B theme can't stick to one time signature, either. It too is string-lead, and features less emphasised off-beats and is much quieter and more subdued. Fans of modern dance music may remember the A and B theme from Dreadzone's 1995 track "Little Britain". The C theme is quieter again, since it is played on only a single flute with a soft timpani accompaniment. It forms the centre-piece of the movement, and is light, jerky and fun.

When we next hear the A and B themes, they have been augmented. The A theme has gained thumping trumpets and trombones, and the B theme has gained a cycling string theme, reminiscent of cowboy movies or Copland's Appalachian Spring. The final repetition of the A theme ends with a rising three note unison line, and a final rumble of the timpani.

7. Floret silva nobilis

This movement is scored in two repeating sections, each with two verses. Each section begins with a grand, stately unison treatment of the first one-and-a-half lines by all the voices. This is immediately followed by the last three syllables ("fol-i-is" or "ist mir we") repeated three times, with each note clearly separated. The orchestra switches from the sedate bowing of the start to a jumping, animated accompaniment for this part.
Floret silva nobilis                The noble woods are burgeoning
floribus et foliis.                 with flowers and leaves.

The second verse in each section has a similar feel to the introduction for its first two lines. Each one starts slow and measured- but this time sung by the female voices only. The last five syllables of each ("me-us am-i-cus", "a-al-lent-halb-en" and "a-al-se lan-ge") get the same jerky, separated, repeated arrangement. The women's lament is concluded in both these verses with a final despairing, high-pitched, "Ah!". In both verses, the male voices answer the pained question. Their response is introduced by a dramatic, rhythmic passage from the low strings, and a rumble of the timpani like horses' hooves. They sing the first word five times, followed by the remainder of the line, repeated but getting quieter and quieter- producing the effect of disappearing into the forest.

Ubi est antiquus meus amicus?       Where is the lover I knew?
Ubi est antiquus meus amicus? Ah!   Where is the lover I knew? Ah!
Hinc equitavit,                     He has ridden off!
eia, quis me amabit? Ah!            Oh! Who will love me? Ah!

The final lament from the women is in a beautiful unaccompanied 3-part harmony. The first exclamatory words ("eia" or "o wi") are repeated 3 times, with a spiralling tune, and the rest of the line ends on a high note. The orchestra restate the low strings that introduced the men, getting quieter and quieter until the women interrupt with a sorrowful, final "Ah!".

Floret silva undique,               The woods are burgeoning all over,
nah min gesellen ist mir we.        I am pining for my lover.

Note that "Nah min gesellen", and everything after it is in Middle High German, rather than Latin.

Gruonet der walt allenthalben,      The woods are turning green all over,
wa ist min geselle alse lange?      why is my lover away so long? Ah!
Der ist geriten hinnen,             He has ridden off,
o wi, wer sol mich minnen? Ah!      Oh woe, who will love me? Ah!

8. Chramer, gip die varwe mir

This movement is in the form of a three-verse song in Middle High German. Each verse is scored identically. Each begins with a string-led two-bar introduction, the percussion dominated by sleigh-bells. The first four lines of each verse are sung to a jaunty tune by unison female voices. The melody is supported by the piccolo and accompanied by the strings and sleigh-bells.

Chramer, gip die varwe mir,          Shopkeeper, give me colour
die min wengel roete,                to make my cheeks red,
damit ich die jungen man             so that I can make the young men
an ir dank der minnenliebe noete.    love me, against their will.

After the 4th line of each verse, the mood changes abruptly. All the voices hum a simple, sedate, six-part harmony with a gentle, lilting accompaniment. The next three lines follow, again led by the women of the choir, with the men singing a single, sustained note underneath. The melody is similar to the first four lines, but with a two-bar-long controlled descent on "gevallen", the male voices and orchestra are silent for this.

Seht mich an,                        Look at me,
jungen man!                          young men!
lat mich iu gevallen!                Let me please you!

The choir have another humming interlude, before the string and sleigh-bell introduction picks up again.

Minnet, tugentliche man,             Good men, love
minnecliche frouwen!                 women worthy of love!
minne tuot iu hoch gemout            Love ennobles your spirit
unde lat iuch in hohen eren schouwen and gives you honour.
Seht mich an                         Look at me,
jungen man!                          young men!
lat mich iu gevallen!                Let me please you!

Wol dir, werit, daz du bist          Hail, world,
also freudenriche!                   so rich in joys!
ich will dir sin undertan            I will be obedient to you
durch din liebe immer sicherliche.   because of the pleasures you afford.
Seht mich an,                        Look at me,
jungen man!                          young men!
lat mich iu gevallen!                Let me please you!

The humming motif ends this movement.

9. Reie

The ninth movement, "Reie" is divided into three sections, often denoted a), b) and c). The a) section is purely instrumental, and led by the strings. It begins as a slow, hesitant dance, with the meter shifting from 2/2, to 3/2, to 5/2 and eventually to 7/2. Each bar has a similar three part harmony, and more detail is added to the tune in the longer bars. A 4/2 and 8/2 section follows, culminating in the brass section taking on the tune as the section ends.

The b)section re-introduces the choir. It is in 3/4 time, and is introduced by 7 bars of plucked strings, offset by a driving rhythmic wind accompaniment. The tenors and basses begin, which each of their phrases repeated by the sopranos and altos. The repetition of "wellent an man" is curtailed by a single 1/4 bar; before the rhythm returns to 3/4 for four cries of "alle" from all four voices. The final "alle" extends into a pair of 2/4 bars which also hold the "disen sumer", which is sung without the orchestra.

Swaz hie gat umbe,                  Those who go round and round
daz sint alles megede,              are all maidens,
die wellent an man                  they want to do without a man
alle disen sumer gan!               all summer long. 
Ah! Sla!                            Ah! Sla!

The "gan" finds itself pushed back into 3/4 time. Four 3-beat cries of "Ah!" follow, but they are offset from the start of each bar, creating a hurried feel. The orchestral part is dominated by the brass and the shakes and beats of a tambourine. The final "Ah!" is held for 4 bars, and the piece ends with a stabbing, defiant "Sla!"

The c) section sticks to a reassuring 3/4 time. The first two lines of each verse are unison female voices. The tune is a subdued lullaby. The second two lines retain the calm feeling, but broaden the tune into a four part harmony for the male voices. The orchestral accompaniment becomes somewhat more complex, with extended bowing from the strings.

Chume, chum, geselle min,           Come, come, my love,
ih enbite harte din,                I long for you,
ih enbite harte din,                I long for you,
chume, chum, geselle min.           come, come, my love.

After each verse, a haunting, simple flute solo is heard.

Suzer rosenvarwer munt,             Sweet rose-red lips,
chum un mache mich gesunt           come and make me better,
chum un mache mich gesunt,          come and make me better,
suzer rosenvarwer munt              sweet rose-red lips.

Suddenly, the riotous b) section is heard again, shattering the calm atmosphere, and concluding the movement.

10. Were diu werlt alle min

The tenth movement sees no return to the sentimentality of the rest of the Uf dem anger. It starts with an abrupt, loud trumpet fanfare, which sounds very like the start of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The next orchestral phrases reintroduce some of the material from the start of the "Reie".

The choir's part is all in unison or octaves, which lends force to the simple, wish-fulfilling daydream that the words describe. The first two lines begin with the crash of a cymbal, and end with an isolated, short blast from a horn. The tune is doubled up by the brass section of the orchestra. The next line is repeated once, more quietly and earnestly, since it deals with starvation- a concept much more familiar in medieval Europe than to Orff's audiences.

Were diu werlt alle min             Were all the world mine
von deme mere unze an den Rin       from the sea to the Rhine,
des wolt ih mih darben,             I would starve myself of it
daz diu chünegin von Engellant      so that the Queen of England
lege an minen armen.                might lie in my arms.

The next line turns the volume back up to 11, and slows the tempo somewhat to emphasis the bold desire of the poet. The last line snaps back to full speed, with the initial "lege" taking place over an octave leap and a bawdy unison tune. The "an minen armen" sees a sudden leap up to a high c, and a measured descent. The orchestra concludes the movement with repetitions of the "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" theme.

The next part is In Taberna, which describes the corrupting influence of the tavern, both celebrating and disdaining its feasting, gambling, drunkeness and squalid atmosphere of debauchery.


  • Imperial College Union Choir's 2002 performance
  • PDF sheet music typeset by Michael Bednarek,
  • The 1997 recording with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Royal Choral Society under Richard Cooke

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