O Fortuna

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For the Rhydian Roberts album, see O Fortuna (album).

"O Fortuna" is a medieval Latin Goliardic poem written early in the 13th century, part of the collection known as the Carmina Burana. It is a complaint about fate and Fortuna, the personification of luck in Roman mythology.

In 1935–36, "O Fortuna" was set to music by German composer Carl Orff as a part of "Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi", the opening and closing movement of his cantata Carmina Burana. It was first staged by the Frankfurt Opera on 8 June 1937. It opens at a slow pace with thumping drums and choir that drops quickly into a whisper building slowly into a steady crescendo of drums and short string and horn notes peaking on one last long powerful note and ending abruptly. A performance takes a little over two and a half minutes.

Orff's setting of the poem has become immensely popular and has been performed by countless classical music ensembles and popular artists. It can be heard in numerous movies and television commercials and has become a staple in popular culture, setting the mood for dramatic or cataclysmic situations.[1] "O Fortuna" topped a list of the most-played classical music of the past 75 years in the United Kingdom.[2]

Poem[edit]


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"O Fortuna" in the Carmina Burana manuscript (Bavarian State Library Clm 4660, f. 1r). The poem occupies the last six lines on the page, along with the overrun at bottom right.

O Fortuna
velut luna
statu variabilis,
semper crescis
aut decrescis;
vita detestabilis
nunc obdurat
et tunc curat
ludo mentis aciem,
egestatem,
potestatem
dissolvit ut glaciem.

Sors immanis
et inanis,
rota tu volubilis,
status malus,
vana salus
semper dissolubilis,
obumbrata
et velata
michi quoque niteris;
nunc per ludum
dorsum nudum
fero tui sceleris.

Sors salutis
et virtutis
michi nunc contraria,
est affectus
et defectus
semper in angaria.
Hac in hora
sine mora
corde pulsum tangite;
quod per sortem
sternit fortem,
mecum omnes plangite!

O Fortune,
like the moon
you are changeable,
ever waxing
and waning;
hateful life
first oppresses
and then soothes
as fancy takes it;
poverty
and power
it melts them like ice.

Fate – monstrous
and empty,
you whirling wheel,
you are malevolent,
well-being is vain
and always fades to nothing,
shadowed
and veiled
you plague me too;
now through the game
I bring my bare back
to your villainy.

Fate is against me
in health
and virtue,
driven on
and weighted down,
always enslaved.
So at this hour
without delay
pluck the vibrating strings;
since Fate
strikes down the strong man,
everyone weep with me![3]

References[edit]

External links[edit]