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
The American Masters - Barber, Corigliano, Bates / Anne Akiko Meyers
Release Date: 09/30/2014   Label: eOne  
Catalog: 7791   Number of Discs: 1
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Barber: Horizon / Barra, Golden, Arioso Wind Quintet, San Diego CO
Release Date: 06/27/1995   Label: Koch International Classics  
Catalog: 7206   Number of Discs: 1
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Barber: The Songs / Studer, Hampson, Browning, Emerson Quartet
Release Date: 10/12/2004   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 000338002   Number of Discs: 2
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Barber: Antony And Cleopatra / Badea, Hinds, Wells
Release Date: 12/08/1992   Label: New World Records  
Catalog: 80322   Number of Discs: 2
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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 26-50 of 70 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    Zen Voices
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 28443 Release Date: 05/18/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Gabriel Fauré,  Franz Schubert,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Natalie Dessay,  Lambert Orkis,  Arleen Augér,  Barbara Hendricks  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Schoenwandt,  Daniel Barenboim,  Laurence Equilbey,  Paavo Järvi  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cellos ensemble of the Orchestre de Paris,  Ensemble Matheus,  Ensemble Orchestral de Paris  ... 
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  • 27.
    10 Greatest Classical Emotions
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 5204 Release Date: 02/23/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giovanni Battista Pergolesi,  Reynaldo Hahn,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Gemma Bertagnolli,  Sara Mingardo,  Marie-Nicole Lemieux,  Daniel Blumenthal  ... 
    Conductor:  Rinaldo Alessandrini,  Gottfried Von der Goltz,  Alessandro De Marchi,  Marc Minkowski  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Italiano,  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra,  Academia Montis Regalis  ... 
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  • 28.
    Sounds Sublime - The Essential Collection / Christophers, The Sixteen
    Label: Coro   Catalog: 16073 Release Date: 09/08/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Tomás Luis de Victoria,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Domenico Scarlatti  ... 
    Performer:  Libby Crabtree,  Christopher Glynn,  Gary Cooper,  Lynda Russell  ... 
    Conductor:  Harry Christophers
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Sixteen,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 29.
    Transmigration / Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80673 Release Date: 07/28/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  John Adams,  John Corigliano,  Jennifer Higdon
    Performer:  Nmon Ford,  Nmon Ford-Livene
    Conductor:  Robert Spano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Chorus,  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
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  • 30.
    Transmigration / Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 60673 Release Date: 07/28/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  John Adams,  John Corigliano,  Jennifer Higdon
    Performer:  Nmon Ford
    Conductor:  Robert Spano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Chorus,  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
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  • 31.
    Esprit - Melancolique
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 5172 Release Date: 05/26/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Gabriel Fauré,  George Frideric Handel,  Tomaso Albinoni  ... 
    Performer:  Laurent Korcia,  Grigory Sokolov,  Anne Gastinel,  Sandrine Piau
    Conductor:  Giovanni Antonini,  Christophe Rousset,  John Eliot Gardiner,  Laurence Equilbey  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Talens Lyriques,  Il Giardino Armonico,  English Baroque Soloists  ... 
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  • 32.
    A Company Of Voices - Conspirare In Concert / Johnson, Et Al
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 907534 Release Date: 05/12/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Larry Norman,  Sydney Carter,  Tarik O'Regan,  Annie Lennox  ... 
    Conductor:  Craig Hella Johnson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Conspirare
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  • 33.
    Company of Voices - Conspirare In Concert
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 9907535 Release Date: 05/12/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Carly Simon,  Morten Lauridsen,  Samuel Barber
    Conductor:  Craig Hella Johnson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Conspirare
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  • 34.
    The Legend Of Sacred Music - From Allegri's Miserere To Barber's Agnus Dei
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 22144 Release Date: 11/24/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Samuel Barber,  George Frideric Handel,  Gregorio Allegri  ... 
    Performer:  Barbara Hendricks,  Hans-Peter Blochwitz,  Barbara Bonney,  Jan-Hendrik Rootering  ... 
    Conductor:  Michel Corboz,  David Hill,  Sir Philip Ledger,  Andrew Parrott  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gulbenkian Foundation Symphony Orchestra Lisbon,  Gulbenkian Foundation Chorus Lisbon,  Winchester Cathedral Choir  ... 
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  • 35.
    Sacred Arias - Katherine Jenkins
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001229402 Release Date: 11/18/2008  
    Composer:  Ariel Ramirez,  Simon Lindley,  Franz Xaver Gruber,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Performer:  Katherine Jenkins
    Conductor:  Nicholas Dodd
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Crouch End Festival Chorus,  London Session Orchestra
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  • 36.
    Transcriptions - Barber, Mahler, Bach... / Accentus
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 5151 Release Date: 10/28/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Peter Cornelius,  Maurice Ravel,  Gerard Pesson,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Hélène Moulin,  Solange Añorga,  Romain Champion,  Brigitte Engerer  ... 
    Conductor:  Laurence Equilbey
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Accentus
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  • 37.
    Eternal Barber
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572133 Release Date: 09/30/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber
    Performer:  James Buswell,  Daniel Pollack
    Conductor:  Marin Alsop
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra,  Ormond College Choir
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  • 38.
    Transcriptions / Equilbey, Accentus
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 5116 Release Date: 03/25/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franck Krawczyck,  Gustav Mahler,  Claude Debussy,  Sergei Prokofiev  ... 
    Conductor:  Laurence Equilbey
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Accentus
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  • 39.
    In Croce
    Label: Solo Musica   Catalog: 120 Release Date: 03/01/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Knut Nystedt,  Berthold Hummel,  Arvo Pärt,  Sofia Gubaidulina  ... 
    Performer:  Julius Berger
    Conductor:  Maris Sirmais
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  • 40.
    Label: Octarium   Catalog: 5637419652 Release Date: 01/01/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Josquin Des Préz,  Maurice Duruflé,  William Byrd,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    CD: $16.99
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  • 41.
    Sacred Songs - Distler, Reger, Et Al / Kreile, Et Al
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 1799 Release Date: 07/17/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hugo Distler,  Max Reger,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Joseph Rheinberger  ... 
    Conductor:  Roderich Kreile
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Kreuz Choir
    CD: $19.99
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  • 42.
    Copland: Simple Gifts / Halsey, Et Al
    Label: Coviello Classics   Catalog: 40611 Release Date: 11/28/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland,  Benjamin Britten,  Michael Tippett,  Samuel Barber  ... 
    Performer:  Philip Mayers,  Christoph Leonhradt,  Axel Scheidig,  Sophie Klussman  ... 
    Conductor:  Simon Halsey
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Male Chorus,  Berlin Radio Chorus,  Berlin Radio Female Chorus
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  • 43.
    Lux Aeterna / David Hill, Winchester Cathedral Choir
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 63307 Release Date: 09/12/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  David Hill,  Charles Wood,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Conductor:  David Hill
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winchester Cathedral Choir
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  • 44.
    American Classics - Barber: Choral Music
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559053 Release Date: 08/29/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber
    Conductor:  Douglas Lawrence
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ormond College Choir
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  • 45.
    Melancolie
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 5036 Release Date: 02/21/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Philip Glass,  Franz Liszt  ... 
    Performer:  Laurent Cabasso,  Lina Mkrtchyan,  Evgeni Talisman,  Adele Anthony  ... 
    Conductor:  Takuo Yuasa,  Laurence Equilbey,  Rinaldo Alessandrini,  Jorma Panula  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ulster Orchestra,  Accentus,  Concerto Italiano  ... 
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  • 46.
    Cathedral Voices
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 62498 Release Date: 09/27/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Samuel Barber,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Gregorio Allegri  ... 
    Performer:  Stephen Farr,  Ursula Kunz,  David Pittman-Jennings,  Reinaldo Macias  ... 
    Conductor:  Andrew Parrott,  David Hill,  Roger Norrington,  Michel Corboz  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Players,  Taverner Choir,  Winchester Cathedral Choir  ... 
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  • 47.
    Barber: Agnus Dei / The Sixteen
    Label: Coro   Catalog: 16031 Release Date: 04/19/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  David Del Tredici,  Samuel Barber,  Aaron Copland,  Steve Reich  ... 
    Performer:  Nicola-Jane Kemp,  Sarah Leonard,  Fiona Clarke,  Nigel Short  ... 
    Conductor:  Harry Christophers
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Sixteen
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  • 48.
    Renaissance - Music For Inner Peace
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000453102 Release Date: 04/12/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Tallis,  John Sheppard,  John Tavener,  Francis Poulenc  ... 
    Performer:  Matthew Halls,  David Miller
    Conductor:  Harry Christophers
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Sixteen
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  • 49.
    The Beauty Of Barber - His Famous Adagio, Etc
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000202902 Release Date: 04/12/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber
    Performer:  Ruth Golden,  Joshua Bell
    Conductor:  David Zinman,  Terry Edwards,  Donald Barra
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra,  London Voices,  San Diego Chamber Orchestra
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  • 50.
    Funeral Music
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 82046 Release Date: 02/01/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Gabriel Fauré,  Traditional  ... 
    Performer:  Marcos Fink,  Elisabeth Graf,  Jeffrey Francis,  Efrat Ben Nun  ... 
    Conductor:  David Hill,  Roger Norrington,  Michel Corboz,  Paul Tortelier  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winchester Cathedral Choir,  London Classical Players,  Lausanne Instrumental Ensemble  ... 
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