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Thread: 3/9 birthday of American composer Samuel Barber

  1. #1

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    3/9 birthday of American composer Samuel Barber

    Just thought I start a thread on this great 20th century American composer.

    I find his music very accesible, I usually have problem with understanding 20th century composers.

    I spent some time listening to his music today:
    the adagio for strings, one of his very first compositions, he was just a student at Curtis. The rest of course is history. I remember the first time I listened to this piece, I was just a teenager, I had tears in my eyes. BTW, some Kwaniacs want Michelle to skate to this piece.

    I am listening to his Canzonetta for oboe and strings, his last compostion. It is poignant and hauting. From the liner notes: The canzonetta for oboe and strings is the final work in SB's long and illustrious career. It received itw world preniere at NY's Avery fisher hall with Mehta conducting the NYPO; Harold Gomberg solist on 12/7/91. It was completed shortly before Barber's death in 1/81.

    track 7

    Barber, Samuel (1910 - 1981)

    Samuel Barber is widely known for his famous Adagio for Strings, the slow movement of a string quartet he wrote in 1936. Born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1910, he was one of the first students at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, where he studied piano, conducting, singing and composition. Awards allowed subsequent study in Rome. He taught briefly at the Curtis Institute, but soon withdrew, sharing a house with his former fellow student Menotti. His music remained neo-romantic in idiom, although not without contemporary influences.
    Orchestral Music
    The Adagio for Strings was arranged for string orchestra from the slow movement of Barber's string quartet of 1936 and played in this form by the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Toscanini in New York two years later, in a programme that included his first Essay. Other orchestral compositions include an overture, The School for Scandal, which had won him an award in 1933, concertos for violin, for cello and for piano, a Capricorn Concerto for solo wind instruments and two symphonies. Recommended Recording

    Adagio for Strings
    Naxos 8.551149

    Symphonies 1 and 2
    Naxos 8.559024
    Stage Works
    Barber wrote three operas, Vanessa, with a libretto by Menotti, A Hand of Bridge, for four singers and chamber orchestra, and Antony and Cleopatra, with a libretto by Zeffirelli. His two ballet scores are Medea and Souvenirs.
    Vocal and Choral Music
    Barber's songs include a setting of Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach, Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and Hermit Songs, settings of Irish texts from the 13th to 18th centuries. Choral works include an arrangement of the Adagio as an Agnus Dei, Prayers of Kierkegaard and the 1971 Neruda setting The Lovers, for baritone, chorus and orchestra.
    Chamber Music
    In addition to the String Quartet, Barber wrote sonatas for violin and for cello.
    Piano Music
    Barber's Piano Sonata touches in passing on twelve-note technique, although generally tonal in conception. Other compositions for piano are Excursions, four pieces, and Nocturne, a homage to the originator of the form, John Field. Recommended Recording

    Solo Piano Music
    Naxos 8.550992

    Barber and Gian Carlo Menotti:

    They are always mentioned together.

  2. #2

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    Re: 3/9 birthday of American composer Samuel Barber

    I am trying to come to terms with this 20th century composer. The only cd I have is the recently acquired violin concerto. The famous adagio is sweet, but I always felt like there were lots of other works like it -- beautiful, but for me it didn't really stand out from the crowd.

    I like the few bars of the oboe concerto. I will get this cd and give it a chance. The oboe is my favorite solo instrument. So plaintive and eery, like it's calling to you from a long way off.

    Thanks for the links.


  3. #3

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    Re: 3/9 birthday of American composer Samuel Barber

    If you are going to buy the canzonetta for oboe and strings you may want to consider this cd instead:

    There are more oboe music in this cd. I too love the oboe, haunting, piercing slightly pungent.

  4. #4

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    Re: 3/9 birthday of American composer Samuel Barber

    Ever have one of those days when you learn about one thing and it starts popping up wherever you go? The other day there was dance recital on classic arts showcase where two kirov ballet dancers performed to Barber's Adagio for Strings. It was so fluid and the music just made the performance so sentimental.

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