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
Copland, Barber, Bernstein & Schuman: Orchestral Works / Bernstein, L.A. Philharmonic
Release Date: 04/29/2016   Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 002475402   Number of Discs: 1
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Katrina Krimsky Plays Villa-Lobos & Barber
Release Date: 04/08/2016   Label: North/South Consonance  
Catalog: 1062   Number of Discs: 1
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Barber, Hindemith, Jolivet, Saeverud / Bergen Wind Quintet
Release Date: 03/25/1994   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 291   Number of Discs: 1
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Bernstein: Serenade After Plato's Symposium;  Bloch, Barber / Gluzman, Neschling
Release Date: 11/24/2009   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 1662   Number of Discs: 1
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Barber: Cello Concerto, Sonata, Adagio / Poltera, Stott, Litton
Release Date: 01/22/2013   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 1827   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Agnus Dei, Op. 11

Browse 26-50 of 60 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    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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  • 27.
    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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  • 28.
    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
    SuperAudio CD: $17.99
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  • 29.
    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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  • 30.
    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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  • 31.
    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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  • 32.
    Sacred Arias - Katherine Jenkins
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001229402 Release Date: 11/18/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    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
    CD: $14.99
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  • 33.
    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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  • 34.
    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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  • 35.
    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
    DVD: $25.49
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  • 36.
    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
    CD: $18.99
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  • 37.
    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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  • 38.
    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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  • 39.
    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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  • 40.
    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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  • 41.
    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  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 42.
    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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  • 43.
    Peace / Llewellyn, Chorus Of Handel & Haydn Society
    Label: Avie   Catalog: 39 Release Date: 04/06/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frederick Delius,  John Tavener,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Henryk Mikolaj Górecki  ... 
    Conductor:  Grant Llewellyn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Handel and Haydn Society Chorus
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  • 44.
    The Best Of Barber - Adagio For Strings, Agnus Dei, Etc
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80632 Release Date: 10/28/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber
    Performer:  Arietha Lockhart,  Jon Kimura Parker,  Sylvia McNair,  Robert McDuffie
    Conductor:  Robert Shaw,  Yoel Levi,  Leonard Slatkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Robert Shaw Festival Singers,  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra,  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $11.99
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  • 45.
    Transcriptions Vol 1 / Laurence Equilbey, Accentus
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 4947 Release Date: 08/19/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franck Krawczyck,  Hugo Wolf,  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Solange Añorga,  Nicholas Kern,  Pierre Jeannot,  Catherine Ravenne  ... 
    Conductor:  Laurence Equilbey
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Accentus
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  • 46.
    À La Gloire De Dieu / The Sixteen
    Label: Coro   Catalog: 16013 Release Date: 01/01/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Francis Poulenc,  Michael Tippett,  Igor Stravinsky,  Samuel Barber  ... 
    Performer:  Libby Crabtree,  Carys-Anne Lane,  Sally Bruce-Payne,  Neil MacKenzie  ... 
    Conductor:  Harry Christophers
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra,  The Sixteen
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  • 47.
    In The Beginning: Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber
    Label: Linn Records   Catalog: 117 Release Date: 02/27/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland,  Samuel Barber
    Performer:  Sally Bruce-Payne,  Susan [Soprano Vocal] Hamilton
    Conductor:  Ben Parry
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dunedin Consort
    CD: $19.99
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  • 48.
    Barber: Choral And Organ Works
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 7145 Release Date: 08/18/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber
    Performer:  Jeremy Filsell
    Conductor:  Timothy Brown
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge University Chamber Choir
    On sale! $22.98
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  • 49.
    Images Of Christ / John Rutter, Cambridge Singers
    Label: Collegium Records   Catalog: 124 Release Date: 02/29/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Anton Bruckner,  William Byrd,  Pablo Casals  ... 
    Conductor:  John Rutter
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge Singers
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  • 50.
    Agnus Dei V.1 & 2
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 4295882 Release Date: 02/14/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Gabriel Fauré,  Giovanni Palestrina,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Matthew Halls,  Christopher Hughes,  Rebecca Hirsch,  Eamon Dougan  ... 
    Conductor:  Edward Higginbottom
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oxford New College Choir,  Capricorn
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