WRITER: Carl Orff
YEAR WRITTEN: 1936
HOW YOU PROBABLY KNOW THIS TUNE: It’s the go-to piece for any director or editor who wants to ramp up the drama (in countless movie trailers) or conflict (to underscore the mounting tension between Will and Sue in a recent episode of Glee) or doom (a few late-night talk shows play it whenever they show a picture of ex-VP Dick Cheney).
WHEEL OF ‘FORTUNE’: Written in 1936, Carmina Burana is based on a collection of songs and poetry dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries. Orff’s Burana is an interpretation of 24 poems, and is presented as a cantata — a vocal-driven composition, slightly different than an opera, usually broken up into several movements, and often performed by a choir. The opening and closing movement — “O Fortuna” (or, “O Fortune”) — with its thunderous tympani and rising choruses — is a powerful statement on man’s impotence against the cosmic forces that shape and determine his fate.
MEMORABLY USED IN … The opening scene from Jackass The Movie.
LIST: The All-TIME 100 Songs