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Caleb Myers
Caleb Myers

Download O Fortuna and Learn the Story Behind Carmina Burana

How to Download O Fortuna, the Epic Medieval Latin Poem Set to Music by Carl Orff

If you are looking for a piece of music that can evoke powerful emotions, inspire awe, and create a dramatic atmosphere, you might want to download O Fortuna, the medieval Latin poem that was set to music by German composer Carl Orff in the 20th century. O Fortuna is one of the most famous and recognizable classical music pieces of all time, and it has been used in many movies, TV shows, commercials, and video games. But what is O Fortuna, where can you find it online, and how can you enjoy it in different ways? In this article, we will answer these questions and more.

What is O Fortuna and why is it so popular?

O Fortuna is a medieval Latin poem that was written in the 13th century by an unknown author. It is part of a larger collection of poems called Carmina Burana, which means "Songs of Beuern" in Latin. The poems were discovered in a manuscript in a monastery in Benediktbeuern, Germany, in the 19th century. The poems are mostly about love, lust, gambling, drinking, and the fickleness of fortune.

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The origin and meaning of O Fortuna

O Fortuna is the first and last poem in the Carmina Burana collection, and it serves as a prologue and epilogue to the whole work. It is a lament about the unpredictable and cruel fate that rules over both gods and humans in Roman and Greek mythology. The poem personifies Fortune as a wheel that spins randomly, raising some people to glory and happiness, and bringing others down to misery and despair. The poem expresses the feelings of helplessness, anger, and fear that people have when facing their destiny.

The musical setting by Carl Orff and its impact

In 1935-36, Carl Orff, a German composer and educator, decided to set 24 of the Carmina Burana poems to music for choir, orchestra, and soloists. He called his cantata Carmina Burana as well, and he used O Fortuna as the opening and closing movement. He titled this movement "Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi", which means "Fortune, Empress of the World" in Latin. He composed a powerful and dramatic music that matched the mood and tone of the poem. He used a slow tempo, thumping drums, low strings, horns, and a large choir that sang with intensity and passion. He also used modal scales, which are ancient musical modes that create a medieval feeling. The music builds up gradually from a whisper to a loud crescendo, reaching a climax on one long note, and then ending abruptly.

Orff's musical setting of O Fortuna became an instant success when it was first performed in Frankfurt in 1937. It was praised by critics and audiences alike for its originality, energy, and emotion. It also became very popular among Nazi officials, who saw it as a symbol of German culture and power. However, Orff himself was not a Nazi supporter, and he later claimed that he wrote Carmina Burana as a protest against the Nazi regime.

Since then, O Fortuna has become one of the most famous classical music pieces of all time. It has been performed by numerous classical ensembles and popular artists. It has also been used in many films and TV shows, such as Excalibur, The Omen, The Doors, Natural Born Killers, The Simpsons, and Glee. It has also been used in commercials for products such as Old Spice, Doritos, and Domino's Pizza. It has become a staple in popular culture, setting the mood for epic scenes, dramatic moments, and humorous parodies. It has also been used in video games, such as Need for Speed, Mortal Kombat, and Call of Duty. It is one of the most recognizable and iconic pieces of music in history.

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Where can you find and download O Fortuna online?

If you want to download O Fortuna and listen to it on your device, you have several options. You can buy it from online music stores, such as iTunes, Amazon Music, or Google Play Music. You can also stream it from online music platforms, such as Spotify, YouTube Music, or Apple Music. However, if you want to download it for free and legally, you can try some of these websites:

Free Music Archive

Free Music Archive is a website that offers free and legal downloads of music from various genres and artists. It is a project of the Internet Archive and WFMU, a radio station in New Jersey. You can find O Fortuna on this website, performed by the University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. You can download it in MP3 format or listen to it online. You can also find other versions of O Fortuna by different artists on this website.

Internet Archive

Internet Archive is a website that preserves and provides access to digital content, such as books, movies, music, and websites. It is a non-profit organization that aims to create a library of the Internet. You can find O Fortuna on this website, performed by various orchestras and choirs from around the world. You can download it in different formats, such as MP3, FLAC, or OGG. You can also listen to it online or embed it on your website.

Orange Free Sounds

Orange Free Sounds is a website that offers free sound effects and music for personal and commercial use. It is a project of OrangeHead Studio, a multimedia production company. You can find O Fortuna on this website, performed by the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir. You can download it in MP3 format or listen to it online. You can also find other sound effects and music on this website.

How to enjoy O Fortuna in different ways?

O Fortuna is a piece of music that can be enjoyed in different ways. Besides listening to it on your device, you can also try some of these activities:

Listen to different versions and interpretations

O Fortuna has been performed by many classical ensembles and popular artists over the years. Each version has its own style and flavor. You can listen to different versions and compare how they differ in tempo, dynamics, instrumentation, vocals, and mood. Some examples of different versions are:




Carl Orff









Sarah Brightman






E Nomine



Loreena McKennitt




A cappella


Watch live performances and videos

O Fortuna is a piece of music that can be enjoyed visually as well as audibly. You can watch live performances and videos of O Fortuna on YouTube or other video platforms. You can see how the musicians and singers perform the piece with passion and skill. You can also see how the audience reacts to the piece with applause and emotion. Some examples of live performances and videos are:

  • O Fortuna - Carl Orff - André Rieu : A spectacular performance by André Rieu and his orchestra in Amsterdam.

  • O Fortuna - Carmina Burana - Carl Orff - Piano : A stunning piano solo by Valentina Lisitsa.

  • O Fortuna Misheard Lyrics (with English subtitles) : A hilarious video that shows the misheard lyrics of O Fortuna in English.

  • O Fortuna - Flash Mob : A surprising flash mob by the Opera Națională Română in a mall in Romania.

Sing along or play an instrument

O Fortuna is a piece of music that can be enjoyed actively as well as passively. You can sing along or play an instrument to O Fortuna and feel the thrill and excitement of the piece. You can find the lyrics and sheet music of O Fortuna online or in books. You can also find karaoke and instrumental versions of O Fortuna on YouTube or other music platforms. You can choose the version that suits your voice or instrument, and have fun with it. Some examples of sing along and play along versions are:

  • O Fortuna - Karaoke Version : A karaoke version with lyrics on screen.

  • O Fortuna - Violin Cover : A violin cover by Taylor Davis.

  • O Fortuna - Guitar Cover : A guitar cover by Thomas Zwijsen.

  • O Fortuna - Flute Cover : A flute cover by The Flute Channel.


O Fortuna is a masterpiece of music that has captivated millions of people for decades. It is a medieval Latin poem that expresses the human condition in the face of fate. It is a musical setting by Carl Orff that creates a powerful and dramatic atmosphere. It is a popular culture phenomenon that has been used in many media and genres. It is a piece of music that you can download, listen, watch, sing, and play in different ways. It is a piece of music that you can enjoy and appreciate in your own way.


Here are some frequently asked questions about O Fortuna:

What does O Fortuna mean in English?

O Fortuna means "O Fortune" in English. It is the name of the poem and the first two words of the poem. It is also the name of the musical movement by Carl Orff.

What language is O Fortuna in?

O Fortuna is in Latin, which was the language of the Roman Empire and the Catholic Church. It was also the language of science, literature, and education in medieval Europe. Latin is still used today in some fields, such as law, medicine, and theology.

What genre is O Fortuna?

O Fortuna is a classical music piece that belongs to the genre of cantata. A cantata is a vocal composition with instrumental accompaniment, usually consisting of several movements. A cantata can be based on a religious or secular theme.

How long is O Fortuna?

O Fortuna is about 5 minutes long. It is the shortest movement in Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, which is about an hour long.

Who wrote O Fortuna?

The author of O Fortuna is unknown. It was written in the 13th century by a medieval poet who was probably a student or a cleric. The composer of O Fortuna is Carl Orff, who was born in 1895 and died in 1982. He was a German composer and educator who was influenced by folk music, ancient music, and modern music.




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