Samuel Barber

Biography

Born: 1910   Died: 1981   Country: USA   Period: 20th Century
An open-hearted yet tough romantic, Samuel Barber was one of the few twentieth century American composers to fight for the primacy of lyricism. In his last decades he seemed to be losing the battle, but by the end of the century Barber had posthumously become one of America's most widely performed and recorded composers. In particular, his emotive Violin Concerto and Adagio for Strings have gained a popularity exceeded only by certain works of Read more Aaron Copland.

Barber entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia in 1924, where he met future opera composer Gian Carlo Menotti; the two would become lifelong lovers. Barber was an able pianist and a baritone of some talent, but he was an even more precocious composer. His 1933 Curtis graduation piece, the spirited School for Scandal Overture, has become a beloved concert opener.

Barber developed into America's most enduring composer of art songs; most popular is his tender setting for soprano and chamber orchestra of James Agee's Knoxville: Summer of 1915. Barber had unerring taste in texts, and his literary interests led him to compose some allusive short orchestral pieces. Yet he was particularly adept at writing abstract works, such as Music for a Scene from Shelley. Many of these are in large forms: two symphonies, one string quartet (from which was drawn the Adagio for Strings, first popularized by Arturo Toscanini), an ambitious piano sonata, and one concerto each for violin, cello, and piano. While following traditional formats, they are propelled by a dramatic expressivity that hadn't been fashionable since Sibelius. Equally direct in their emotional content are his three Essays for Orchestra, the second being the best crafted and most acclaimed.

Barber would have seemed an ideal composer for the stage, but he had limited success in that realm. Medea, a 1947 dance score for Martha Graham, has found greater longevity in orchestral excerpts. His 1958 Vanessa garnered him the first of two Pulitzer Prizes (the second was for his Piano Concerto), but, like most other American operas, it quickly dropped out of sight. Barber wrote Anthony and Cleopatra to open the new Metropolitan Opera House in 1966, but critical reaction was so hostile that he produced very little during his remaining 15 years. Barber was too conservative to be fashionable; his harmony could be astringent, but his tonality remained secure, his rhythms were strong and clear, and he was not above writing a good melody. Read less
Barber: Violin & Piano Concertos / McDuffie, Parker
Release Date: 02/27/1997   Label: Telarc  
Catalog: 80441   Number of Discs: 1
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Kirov Classics - Chopiniana, Petrushka, Barber's Adagio, Etc
Release Date: 07/30/2002   Label: Kultur Video  
Catalog: 86   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Agnus Dei, Op. 11

Browse 1-25 of 76 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Erato - 50 CD Collection
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 46441 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Tomaso Albinoni,  Giuseppe Tartini,  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Giuseppe Torelli  ... 
    Performer:  Maurice André,  Pierre Pierlot,  Paul Hongne,  Jacques Chambon  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Jean-François Paillard,  Frigyes Sándor,  Kent Nagano  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ens.,  Paillard Chamber Orchestra,  Vienna Soloists  ... 
    On sale! $299.98
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  • 2.
    Adagio - A Consideration Of A Serious Matter / Ensemble Caprice
    Label: Analekta   Catalog: 29848 Release Date: 10/22/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jan Dismas Zelenka,  Tomaso Albinoni,  Samuel Barber,  Matthias Maute  ... 
    Conductor:  Matthias Maute
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Caprice
    CD: $18.49
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  • 3.
    50 Best Chillout Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 332942 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Pachelbel,  Tomaso Albinoni,  Gregorio Allegri,  Christoph W. Gluck  ... 
    Performer:  Gerald Finley,  Emmanuel Pahud,  Juliette Hurel,  Christopher Warren-Green  ... 
    Conductor:  Maurice Handford,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Stephen Cleobury,  Yannick Nézet-Séguin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork,  Ahn Trio,  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic  ... 
    CD: $11.99
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  • 4.
    Essential Choral
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 234422 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  George Frideric Handel,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Robert Tear,  John Shirley-Quirk,  Heather Harper,  Peter Barley  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Sir Charles Mackerras,  Sir David Willcocks,  Wolfgang Sawallisch  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 5.
    Music From The Movies / Katherine Jenkins
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001790802 Release Date: 12/11/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alan Silvestri,  Bryan Adams,  Andrew Lloyd Webber,  Ennio Morricone  ... 
    Performer:  Katherine Jenkins
    CD: $12.99
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  • 6.
    This Is My Song
    Label: Da Chiesa   Catalog: 5637975151 Release Date: 10/05/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Emma Lou Diemer,  Hal Hopson,  Blake R. Henson,  Samuel Barber  ... 
    Performer:  Deborah Thoreson,  Atlanta Sacred Chorale,  Dee Hamner
    Conductor:  Eric Nelson
    CD: $26.99
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  • 7.
    Sacred Treasures
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 2646 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Marc-Antoine Charpentier,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Claudio Monteverdi,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  David Thomas,  Emma Kirkby,  Rogers Covey-Crump,  Gérard Lesne  ... 
    Conductor:  William Christie,  Andrew Parrott,  Philip Ledger,  Paul McCreesh  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants,  Taverner Players,  Taverner Consort  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 8.
    Samuel Barber - An American Romantic / Johnson, Conspirare
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 807522 Release Date: 09/12/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber
    Conductor:  Craig Hella Johnson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Conspirare
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  • 9.
    Samuel Barber's Collected Choral Works / The Esoterics
    Label: Terpsichore   Catalog: 1110 Release Date: 08/28/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Esoterics
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  • 10.
    Accentus - Faure, Dusapin, Brahms: Requiems; Haydn; Seven Last Words Of Christ, Transcriptions / Equilbey
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 5301 Release Date: 06/26/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Gabriel Fauré,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Samuel Barber,  Gerard Pesson  ... 
    Performer:  Stèphane Degout,  Christophe Henry,  Luc Héry,  Sandrine Piau  ... 
    Conductor:  Laurence Equilbey
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Accentus,  Maitrise de Paris,  National Orchestra d'Ile de France  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 11.
    Best 20 / Laurence Equilbey, Accentus
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 5290 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Gabriel Fauré,  Dietrich Buxtehude,  Francis Poulenc  ... 
    Conductor:  Laurence Equilbey
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Accentus
    CD: $17.99
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  • 12.
    Magnificat - 500 Years Of Choral Masterworks [50-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001664502 Release Date: 04/10/2012   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Gregorio Allegri,  Antonio Lotti,  Orlando de Lassus,  Josquin Des Préz  ... 
    Performer:  Patrick Russill,  Marinella Pennicchi,  Michael Chance,  Mark Tucker  ... 
    Conductor:  Harry Christophers,  Paul McCreesh,  Stephen Cleobury,  Edward Wickham  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Sixteen,  Gabrieli Consort,  Gabrieli Players  ... 
    CD: $179.99
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  • 13.
    Label: Westminster Choir College   Catalog: 1109 Release Date: 03/27/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Maurice Duruflé,  Leonard Bernstein,  Igor Stravinsky  ... 
    Performer:  Gloria Justen,  Daniel Hudson,  Hanfang Zhang,  Elizabeth Thompson  ... 
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  • 14.
    Ave
    Label: Churchkat   Catalog: 5637920279 Release Date: 03/20/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Pachelbel,  George Frideric Handel,  Franz Schubert,  Samuel Barber  ... 
    Performer:  Gerry Manecke,  Colleen Moore
    CD: $13.99
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  • 15.
    One Fine Day / Katherine Jenkins
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001632702 Release Date: 12/13/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Gounod,  Giacomo Puccini,  Andrew Lloyd Webber,  Michael Kamen  ... 
    Performer:  Katherine Jenkins
    CD: $13.99
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  • 16.
    One Fine Day / Katherine Jenkins [CD & DVD]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 2781057 Release Date: 10/11/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Charles Gounod,  Giacomo Puccini,  Andrew Lloyd Webber,  Michael Kamen  ... 
    Performer:  Katherine Jenkins,  Juan Diego Flórez,  Tim Rhys-Evans
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Serendipity
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  • 17.
    Hohepunkte Der Chormusik
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300227 Release Date: 07/12/2011   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Heinrich Isaac,  Pierre de La Rue,  Josquin Des Préz,  Antoine de Févin  ... 
    Performer:  Karl-Heinz Schmieder,  Werner Eberhardt,  Siegfried Hausmann,  Joachim Vogt  ... 
    Conductor:  Dietrich Knothe,  Hans Gruss,  Roderich Kreile,  Rudolf Mauersberger  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Schütz-Akademie,  Virtuosi Saxoniae,  Trompetensemble Ludwig Güttler  ... 
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  • 18.
    The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell
    Label: Gramola   Catalog: 98913 Release Date: 07/12/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bo Holten,  Johannes Brahms,  Anton Bruckner,  Per Norgård  ... 
    Performer:  Florian Ehrlinger,  Katrin Kriegl,  Theresa Dlouhy,  Malte Puls  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 19.
    Naked Byrd Two / Armonico Consort
    Label: Signum U.k.   Catalog: 235 Release Date: 02/22/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hermanus Contractus,  Christopher Monks,  Hildegard of Bingen,  Samuel Barber  ... 
    Performer:  Anna Sandström,  Kelly McCusker,  Kirsteen Rogers,  Rachel Robinson  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armonico Consort
    Recommendation
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  • 20.
    Seid Nuchtern Und Wachet
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300151 Release Date: 01/11/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Max Reger,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Pablo Casals,  Rudolf Mauersberger  ... 
    Performer:  Tobias Berndt
    Conductor:  Herbert Kegel,  Andrey Boreyko
    CD: $17.99
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  • 21.
    The Rodolfus Choir Choral Collection
    Label: Signum U.k.   Catalog: 240 Release Date: 11/30/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Leo Hussain,  Ralph Allwood,  Edvard Grieg,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  James Bowman,  Christopher Hughes
    Conductor:  Ralph Allwood
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rodolfus Choir
    Recommendation
    CD: $39.99
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  • 22.
    Transcriptions; Faure: Requiem; Nuit Sacree / Laurence Equilbey, Accentus
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 5248 Release Date: 11/16/2010   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Gerard Pesson,  Knut Nystedt,  Franck Krawczyck  ... 
    Performer:  Jean-François Lombard,  Brigitte Engerer,  Solange Añorga,  André Henrich  ... 
    Conductor:  Laurence Equilbey
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Accentus,  Les monts du Reuil,  Maitrise de Paris  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 23.
    Voices In The Dark: Nocturnal Chants From Schubert To Orff
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300105 Release Date: 10/12/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Gustav Mahler,  Franz Schubert,  Sergei Prokofiev  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 24.
    A Year At King's / Cleobury, King's College Choir
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 09004 Release Date: 07/13/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Villiers Stanford,  Tomás Luis de Victoria,  Charles Wood,  Peter Philips  ... 
    Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
    CD: $16.99
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  • 25.
    The Music Of America: Samuel Barber
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 770278 Release Date: 06/08/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Samuel Barber
    Performer:  Leontyne Price,  Frederica Von Stade,  Marilyn Horne,  Martin Katz  ... 
    Conductor:  Thomas Schippers,  James Conlon,  Leonard Bernstein,  Leonard Slatkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Tokyo String Quartet,  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
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