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Samuel Barber

March 9, 1910 - January 23, 1981
born in West Chester, PA, composed during the Modern period
Samuel Barber, one of the most prominent and popular American composers of the mid-20th century, wrote effectively in virtually every genre, including opera, ballet, vocal, choral, keyboard, chamber, and orchestral music. His music is notable for its warmly Romantic lyricism, memorable melodies, and essentially conservative harmonic style, all of which put him at odds with the prevailing modernist aesthetic of his time.

Barber was a member of the first class at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. In 1928, the 17-year-old Gian Carlo Menotti came to study at Curtis, and the two formed a personal and professional bond that would last most of Barber's life. As a student, Barber wrote several works that have entered the repertoire, including the song Dover Beach and Overture to the School for Scandal for orchestra. A fine singer and pianist, as well as composer, much of his work throughout his career featured the voice.

After his graduation from Curtis, Barber wrote a string quartet, the second movement of which became his most famous work, Adagio for Strings. Toscanini performed the Adagio with the NBC Symphony in 1938, and Barber's career was effectively launched. His 1939 Violin Concerto further established his international reputation. During the Second World War, Barber served in the Army Air Corps, where his duties included writing a symphony, his second. Works that followed over the next two decades include the Capricorn Concerto; a Cello Concerto; a Piano Sonata; Knoxville: Summer of 1915, an extended song for voice and orchestra with a text by James Agee; Hermit Songs, for voice and piano, using medieval texts; the chamber opera A Hand of Bridge; Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance, taken from the ballet Cave of the Heart, written for Martha Graham; Summer Music, for wind quintet; the opera Vanessa; and a Piano Concerto. Some of the most prestigious musicians in the world performed his music and became champions of his work, including Leontyne Price, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Eleanor Steber, Martina Arroyo, Vladimir Horowitz, Arturo Toscanini, Eugene Ormandy, Bruno Walter, George Szell, and Serge Koussevitzky.

Barber received his first Pulitzer Prize for Vanessa, which had been commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, had its premiere in 1958, and was hailed as the first great American "grand opera." His 1962 Piano Concerto won the composer his second Pulitzer Prize. The Metropolitan Opera commissioned Barber to write an opera to inaugurate its new opera house in Lincoln Center in 1966. Antony and Cleopatra, based on Shakespeare with a libretto by Franco Zeffirelli, proved to be a failure due at least as much to flaws in the production as to the music. Barber was so devastated by the intensity of the animosity toward his work that he never regained his confidence. He was temperamentally disposed to melancholy, which turned into clinical depression, and although he continued to compose sporadically, he produced few further works of substance.

In spite of the indifference or contempt of critics and the academic establishment, Barber's expressive and directly communicative music has never lacked support and devotion from concert audiences, and he remains one of the best-known and beloved American composers. His Adagio for Strings has achieved iconic status as a profound and universally understood expression of grief, and remains a testament to Barber's ability to write music of the highest artistic standards that can also touch the heart. ~ Stephen Eddins, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Despite And Still: Melissa Fogarty Sings Samuel Barber

Title: Nuvoletta, Song For Voice & Piano, Op. 25

1. Nuvoletta, Song For Voice & Piano, Op. 25: Nuvoletta, Op.25

Title: Hermit Songs, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29

2. Hermit Songs, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29: I. at Saint Patrick's Purgatory

3. Hermit Songs, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29: II. Church Bell at Night

4. Hermit Songs, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29: III. St. Ita's Vision

5. Hermit Songs, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29: IV. the Heavenly Banquet

6. Hermit Songs, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29: V. the Crucifixion

7. Hermit Songs, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29: VI. Sea-snatch

8. Hermit Songs, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29: VII. Promiscuity

9. Hermit Songs, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29: VIII. the Monk and His Cat

10. Hermit Songs, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29: IX. the Praises of God

11. Hermit Songs, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29: X. the Desire for Hermitage

Title: The Secrets Of The Old, Song For Voice & Piano, Op. 13/2

12. The Secrets Of The Old, Song For Voice & Piano, Op. 13/2: The Secrets Of The Old

Title: Sure On This Shining Night, Song For Voice & Piano (Also Arr. For Voice, Orch, Chorus & Piano), Op. 13/3

13. Sure On This Shining Night, Song For Voice & Piano (Also Arr. For Voice, Orch, Chorus & Piano), Op. 13/3: Sure On This Shining Night, Op. 13 No.3

Title: Despite And Still, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 41

14. Despite And Still, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 41: I. a Last Song

15. Despite And Still, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 41: II. My Lizard

16. Despite And Still, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 41: III. in the Wilderness

17. Despite And Still, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 41: IV. Solitary Hotel

18. Despite And Still, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 41: V. Despite and Still

Title: Songs (2), For Voice & Piano, Op. 18

19. Songs (2), For Voice & Piano, Op. 18: II. Monks and Raisins (Allegro)

Title: Songs (3), For Voice & Piano, Op. 10

20. Songs (3), For Voice & Piano, Op. 10: I. Rain Has Fallen

Title: Songs (3), For Voice & Piano, Op. 45

21. Songs (3), For Voice & Piano, Op. 45: I. Now Have I Fed and Eaten up the Rose

22. Songs (3), For Voice & Piano, Op. 45: II. a Green Lowland of Pianos

23. Songs (3), For Voice & Piano, Op. 45: III. O Boundless, Boundless Evening

x

Track List: Barber: Adagio For Strings; Violin Concerto; Knoxville: Summer 1915

x

Track List: Barber: The Songs

Disc 1
Title: A Slumber Song of the Madonna, for voice & organ

1. A Slumber Song of the Madonna, for voice & organ: A Slumber Song of the Madonna (Moderato)

Title: There's Nae Lark, for voice & piano

2. There's Nae Lark, for voice & piano: There's Nae Lark (Moderato)

Title: Love at the Door, song for voice & piano

3. Love at the Door, song for voice & piano: Love at the Door (Allegro)

Title: Serenade, For String Quartet Or String Orchestra, Op. 1

4. Serenade, For String Quartet Or String Orchestra, Op. 1: Serenader (Andante Con Moto)

Title: Love's Caution, song for voice & piano

5. Love's Caution, song for voice & piano: Love's Caution (Moderato)

Title: Night Wanderers, song for voice & piano

6. Night Wanderers, song for voice & piano: Night Wanderers (Without Tempo Indication)

Title: Of That So Sweet Imprisonment, song for voice & piano

7. Of That So Sweet Imprisonment, song for voice & piano: Of That So Sweet Imprisonment (Con Moto)

Title: Strings in the Earth and Air, song for voice & piano

8. Strings in the Earth and Air, song for voice & piano: Strings in the Earth and Air (Moderato)

Title: The Beggar's Song, song for voice & piano

9. The Beggar's Song, song for voice & piano: Beggar's Song (Andante - Allegro Moderato)

Title: In the Dark Pinewood, song for voice & piano

10. In the Dark Pinewood, song for voice & piano: In the Dark Pinewood (Moderato)

Title: Songs (3), for voice & piano, Op. 2

11. Songs (3), for voice & piano, Op. 2: I. the Daisies

12. Songs (3), for voice & piano, Op. 2: II. with Rue My Heart Is Laden

13. Songs (3), for voice & piano, Op. 2: III. Bessie Bobtail

Title: Songs (3), For Voice & Piano, Op. 10

14. Songs (3), For Voice & Piano, Op. 10: I. Rain Has Fallen

15. Songs (3), For Voice & Piano, Op. 10: II. Sleep Now

16. Songs (3), For Voice & Piano, Op. 10: III. Hear an Army

Title: Songs (4), For Voice & Piano, Op. 13

17. Songs (4), For Voice & Piano, Op. 13: I. a Nun Takes the Veil

18. Songs (4), For Voice & Piano, Op. 13: II. the Secrets of the Old

19. Songs (4), For Voice & Piano, Op. 13: III. Sure on This Shining Night

20. Songs (4), For Voice & Piano, Op. 13: IV. Nocturne

Title: Dover Beach, for baritone (or mezzo-soprano) & string quartet, Op. 3

21. Dover Beach, for baritone (or mezzo-soprano) & string quartet, Op. 3: I. Dover Beach Op. 3 (Andante, Un Poco Mosso)

Disc 2
Title: Songs (2), For Voice & Piano, Op. 18

1. Songs (2), For Voice & Piano, Op. 18: I. the Queen's Face on the Summery Coin (Andante Con Moto)

2. Songs (2), For Voice & Piano, Op. 18: II. Monks and Raisins (Allegro)

Title: Nuvoletta, Song For Voice & Piano, Op. 25

3. Nuvoletta, Song For Voice & Piano, Op. 25: Nuvoletta, Op.25

Title: Mélodies passagères (5), songs for voice & piano, Op. 27

4. Mélodies passagères (5), songs for voice & piano, Op. 27: I. Puisque Tout Passe

5. Mélodies passagères (5), songs for voice & piano, Op. 27: II. Un Cygne

6. Mélodies passagères (5), songs for voice & piano, Op. 27: III. Tombeau Dans Un Parc

7. Mélodies passagères (5), songs for voice & piano, Op. 27: IV. Le Clocher Chante

8. Mélodies passagères (5), songs for voice & piano, Op. 27: V. Depart

Title: Hermit Songs, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29

9. Hermit Songs, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29: I. at Saint Patrick's Purgatory

10. Hermit Songs, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29: II. Church Bell at Night

11. Hermit Songs, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29: III. St. Ita's Vision

12. Hermit Songs, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29: IV. the Heavenly Banquet

13. Hermit Songs, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29: V. the Crucifixion

14. Hermit Songs, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29: VI. Sea-snatch

15. Hermit Songs, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29: VII. Promiscuity

16. Hermit Songs, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29: VIII. the Monk and His Cat

17. Hermit Songs, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29: IX. the Praises of God

18. Hermit Songs, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29: X. the Desire for Hermitage

Title: Despite And Still, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 41

19. Despite And Still, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 41: I. a Last Song

20. Despite And Still, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 41: II. My Lizard

21. Despite And Still, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 41: III. in the Wilderness

22. Despite And Still, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 41: IV. Solitary Hotel

23. Despite And Still, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 41: V. Despite and Still

Title: Songs (3), For Voice & Piano, Op. 45

24. Songs (3), For Voice & Piano, Op. 45: I. Now Have I Fed and Eaten up the Rose

25. Songs (3), For Voice & Piano, Op. 45: II. a Green Lowland of Pianos

26. Songs (3), For Voice & Piano, Op. 45: III. O Boundless, Boundless Evening

x

Track List: Capricorn: The Samuel Barber Collection

Title: Capricorn Concerto, For Flute, Oboe, Trumpet & Strings, Op. 21
Title: Canzone (Elegy), For Flute & Piano (arr. From 2nd Mvt. Of The Piano Concerto), Op. 38a
Title: Fadograph Of A Yestern Scene, For Orchestra (after Joyce: "Finnegan's Wake"), Op. 44
Title: Medea's Meditation And Dance Of Vengeance (from "Medea"), Op. 23a
Title: Adagio For Strings (Or String Quartet; Arr. From 2nd Mvt. Of String Quartet), Op. 11
Title: Souvenirs, Suite From The Ballet
Title: Hermit Songs, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29
Title: To Be Sung On The Water, For 4 Voices, Op. 42/2
Title: The Lovers, For Baritone, Chorus & Orchestra, Op. 43
Title: Summer Music, For Wind Quintet, Op. 31
x

Track List: Samuel Barber: Piano Concerto; Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance

Title: Piano Concerto, Op. 38
Title: Die Natali, Chorale Christmas Preludes For Orchestra, Op. 37
Title: Medea's Meditation And Dance Of Vengeance (from "Medea"), Op. 23a
Title: Commando March, For Band

6. Commando March, For Band: Commando March

Comments

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Hi, I'm Gabriel. I'm a 15 yr old kid. I started listening to this station to become better with classical. I learned to LOVE classical!! I love this station so much. I even lovjt so much that I listen to it when I run!
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verzikaren
This music is so beautiful & relaxing. One of my favorite composers.
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I cry almost every time I hear it. First time I heard it was live at a concert at SSO. I was sobbing...
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Speaks to my soul in a way only music can. Makes me want to cry the way the music seems to see into the darker reaches of my mind and soul.
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It always takes me to a place outside of my tired body and mind.
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vsnyder74











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Favorite of all. So powerful !
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vsnyder74
Adagio For Strings is beautiful! Listening to it RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!! ! I would like to take a vote. Which pice of music is better? Fur Elise or Adagio For Strings? (PS: spam wars has started:John Williams VS The piano guys. To learn more, follow.
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vsnyder74
2nd Mvt...) is too!!!!!!!!! ! ! ! !
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vsnyder74
Agio for strings is so relaxing,cal m and quiet!❤️
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Adagio for strings is possibly the best adagio ever - Spine tingling beauty and reverent worship combined.
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Adagio for strings brought me to tears the first time I heard the piece. I was 16.
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This music makes my cry because it is so beautiful. It expresses what words cannot.
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This song just leaves one in a state of wonder...at the depth of beauty of human creativity,, beauty of the soul
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Mr. Barber, Was a head of his time when it come to a music. We need more people like him in the world.. Thank you .Sir.
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Agnus Dei is for me one of the most beautiful, spiritual choral work I have ever heard. The title means lamb of god. In the Roman Catholic ritual when the priest raises the consecrated host to offer it to the communicants , he says, Agnus dei, qui tollis pecata mundi. Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. It is because of music like Barber's Agnus Dei that I am still a Chrisitian.
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PAUL16720
This will always take me to the grief and sadness of the Vietnam era and its effects on our nation, the upheavals and despair and anger and the fate of those in the final days trying to leave the calamity.
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One of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written - I never tire of it.
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charles.ster n e
FYI, the photograph shown above on his Samuel Barber page is actually a picture of violinist, Iso Briselli, who, like Samuel Barber, graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music in 1934.
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American Genius
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This was first feature in the film Elephant man, if any one remembers
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First listen to Agnus Dei.so calming, so beautiful...
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The first time I heard this piece was during the movie "Platoon". Since then, every time I have heard it I feel a deep sense of sadness, grief, and it nearly moves me to tears. This is such a powerful piece of music, hauntingly beautiful.
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My most favorite piece to paint to. Very haunting and emotional and just beautiful
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Peace on earth and love to our fellow men, this music makes feel so calm!
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That's because Barber didn't compose Fanfare, Aaron Copeland did.
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lydia_coulte r
Obviously Adagio for Strings is really popular, but I'm surprised that no one has mentioned another powerful Barber composition, Fanfare for the Common Man. I like them both.
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lydia_coulte r
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Adagio is my most favorite of all times
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carolruthgra n t
Adagio makes me feel as if I am being held and comforted in the arms of an angel.
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carolruthgra n t
It makes me feel like I am being comforted in the arms of a angel.
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kam_corder
Besides J.S. Bach, he's my other favorite composer, and an American no less too.
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Very beautiful & relaxing music.
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Most Definitely my Favorite Peice of Classical Music..Ever. So soothing and just simply astounding!
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dbruces
This piece is so beautiful. It is the song of heaven
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raquellylash a e 0 6
Breathtaking l y beautiful...
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Took me a while to realize that I had heard this adagio many times in the Japanese Anime Full Metal Alchemist. Simply beautiful!
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christiniaz
amazingly peaceful, loving, adventurous, and very deep
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I've always loved this piece but seeing it on PBS after 9/11 was beyond heart breaking. To this day, I can't listen to this song without recalling that concert and feeling the emotion from it.
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fee24
i am so glad that others find this music stunning in its beauty. from the angels.
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My grandfather attended Curtis, and, though I love the adagio, I remember my grandpa with a whole lot more affection.
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Who remembers Samuel Barber's work? Now who remembers the work or even the names of his critics? Exactly.
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michaelbritt 4 3 1 2
its one of those pieces that you just have to stop what your doing and close your eyes and listen...... . . .
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mudnrox
Has been one of my favorite pieces of all time. Barber created such a haunting and intense piece, filled with sadness. Yet hope abounds. Every time I listen to it, I am reminded of what really matters in life.
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This is one of those few masterpieces that are called "out of time", meaning it remains for ever, with inexpressibl e words and power. And as days and years go by in our "peaceful adventures world", this one in particular becomes even more endless and endless to this understandin g . Barber is/was the greatest American composer, and one of the greatest of all times. Among many thoughts coming in your mind when listening Adagio, It also feels like it depicts groaning and derision of the real true mu
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latingeek
Brian Reyes, so well said-it makes me shiver too-this has some very encouraging moments too however. I think it easily describes man's realization that his time on Earth fades but that his ascent to something better must be preceded by a sort of narrative of his entire life upon strings. The piece certainly plucks the strings of the hearts of its listeners. It brought me to tears when I first heard it.
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A beautiful cry for help, it makes me feel as though I am listening to someone's last words.
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Sends shivers up and down my spine.
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Gives me chills its so beautiful
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I loved this song from the first moment I herd it living in the city it brought a quietness to my urban life simply beautiful
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