Sunday, 26 December 2010

From Samuel Barber to Scotland...... part one.

Unfortunately Samuel Barber's lovely music is not as well known, and not played as much as it should be.
Samuel Barber was born 1910 to a distinguished and well to do Irish-American family in Pennsylvania. His father was a doctor and his mother a pianist. He began composing seriously in his late teens, and it was during this time at the Curtis Institute that he met Gian Carlo Menotti who became his partner in life as well as in their shared profession. At the Institute he was a triple prodigy, in voice, composition, and piano. Many of his early compositions were commissioned by famous artists such as Vladimir Horowitz, Francis Poulenc, and D. Fischer-Dieskau. Toscanini remarked of his Adagio for Strings in 1938 that it was "semplice e bella".
He won the Pulitzer prize twice, in 1938 for his opera Vanessa, (for which his life-long partner Gian Carlo Menotti wrote the libretto), and in 1963 for his Concerto for piano and orchestra. Amongst his finest works are his 4 concertos 1939 - 1962. He was badly affected by the adverse criticism of his 3rd opera Antony and Cleopatra which had been written and premiered for the opening of the Metropolitan Opera House 1966, and spent many years thereafter in isolation suffering from depression. He continued to write music until his death in New York 1981.


  1. Interesting blog why don't we hear more of this composer ?

  2. Knoxville: Summer of 1915.......exquisite perfection.

  3. How true! Barber used the words of James Agee - (the forerunner of James Dean?)

  4. I saw Knoxville, performed by the Minnesota Dance Theater, and choreographed by Loyce Houlton, a prominent choreographer.