Carmina Burana is a scenic cantata composed by Carl Orff in 1935 and 1936. It is based on 24 of the poems found in the medieval collection Carmina Burana. Its full Latin title is Carmina Burana: Cantiones profanæ cantoribus et choris cantandæ comitantibus instrumentis atque imaginibus magicis ("Songs of Beuern: Secular songs for singers and choruses to be sung together with instruments and magic images.) Carmina Burana is part of Trionfi, the musical triptych that also includes the cantata Catulli Carmina and Trionfo di Afrodite. The first and last movements are called "Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi" and start with the very well known "O Fortuna".
In 1934, Orff encountered the text in 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 and Old Provençal. 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.