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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
American Classics - Barber: Choral Music
Release Date: 08/29/2006   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8559053   Number of Discs: 1
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American Classics - Barber: Orchestral Works Vol 1 / Alsop
Release Date: 06/13/2000   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8559024   Number of Discs: 1
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Barber: Souvenirs; Menotti: Sebastian, Amahl And The Night Visitors / Schenck
Release Date: 01/04/1993   Label: Koch International Classics  
Catalog: 7005   Number of Discs: 1
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Bernstein: Arias And Barcarolles; Barber, Diamond / Schwarz, Seattle Symphony
Release Date: 04/24/2012   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8559709   Number of Discs: 1
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Hindemith, Barber, Larsson, Janacek / Thompson Wind Quintet
Release Date: 03/14/2000   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8553851   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Adagio for Strings, Op. 11

Browse 1-25 of 211 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Leonard Bernstein Edition - Concertos & Orchestral Works
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 301330 Release Date: 10/27/2014   Number of Discs: 80
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Béla Bartók  ... 
    Performer:  Isaac Stern,  Leonard Bernstein,  Harold Gomberg,  William Heim  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Seiji Ozawa,  Maurice Peress
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  New York Philharmonic members,  Columbia Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale!
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  • 2.
    James Galway - The Complete RCA Album Collection
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 302633 Release Date: 09/16/2014   Number of Discs: 73
    Composer:  Arthur Smith,  Various,  Traditional,  Stan Lebowsky  ... 
    Performer:  James Galway,  Sylvia,  Marisa Robles,  Phillip Moll  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Scimone,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Jörg Faerber,  Eduardo Mata  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Solisti Veneti,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Galway Pops Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $199.98
    CD: $169.99
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  • 3.
    The Argo Years / Neville Marriner, Academy Of St Martin In The Fields [28-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002081902 Release Date: 06/03/2014   Number of Discs: 28
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Arcangelo Corelli,  Giuseppe Torelli,  Pietro Antonio Locatelli  ... 
    Performer:  Gwynne Howell,  Philip Langridge,  Anna Reynolds,  Elly Ameling  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chorus,  Philip Jones Brass Ensemble
    Recommendation
    CD: $163.49
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  • 4.
    Leonard Bernstein Collection Vol 1 [59 CDs & 1 DVD]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 2027800 Release Date: 04/22/2014   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Leonard Bernstein,  Benjamin Britten  ... 
    Performer:  René Kollo,  Dame Gwyneth Jones,  Kurt Moll,  Hanna Schwarz  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Kent Nagano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Concert Choir,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
    CD: $342.99
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  • 5.
    American Journey / Murray, Heisser, Orchestre Poitou Charentes
    Label: Mirare   Catalog: 244 Release Date: 04/08/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Leonard Bernstein,  George Gershwin,  Bernard Herrmann  ... 
    Performer:  Tai Murray,  Jean-François Heisser
    Conductor:  Jean-François Heisser
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre Poitou Charentes
    On sale! $26.98
    CD: $24.99
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  • 6.
    Great European Organs, No. 89 / Marco Lo Muscio
    Label: Priory Records   Catalog: 1096 Release Date: 01/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Paolo Lazzeri,  Greg Lake,  Ralph Vaughan Williams  ... 
    Performer:  Marco Lo Muscio
    On sale! $22.98
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  • 7.
    The American Symphonic Organ / Jean-Baptiste Robin
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94726 Release Date: 12/10/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Isaac Albeniz,  Béla Bartók,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Jean-Baptiste Robin,  STacey Rishoi
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    CD: $8.99
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  • 8.
    Berlin Philharmonic - Centenary Edition
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001923302 Release Date: 10/22/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Hector Berlioz,  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Géza Anda,  Walter Berry,  Gundula Janowitz,  Hilde Rössl-Majdan  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Nikisch,  Alfred Hertz,  Richard Strauss,  Bruno Walter  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein,  Swedish Radio Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $149.98
    CD: $137.99
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  • 9.
    Music Of Steel - Heroic Themes From The Movies
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001871502 Release Date: 07/09/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John T. Williams,  Gioachino Rossini,  Richard Strauss,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Birgit Nilsson,  Berit Lindholm,  Helen Watts,  Brigitte [Mezzo-Soprano Vocal] Fassbaender  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly,  Sir G. Solti,  Stanley Black,  Antal Doráti  ... 
    CD: $11.99
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  • 10.
    Clarinet Choir Classics
    Label: Mark Custom Recording Service,   Catalog: 50193 Release Date: 03/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Samuel Barber  ... 
    Performer:  Jenny Maclay,  Piccolo Clarinet] Patrick [Clarinet Sikes,  Michael Tran,  Basset Horn] Keith [Clarinet (Alto) Northover  ... 
    Conductor:  Mitchell Estrin,  David Waybright
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  University of Florida Clarinet Ensemble
    CD: $9.99
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  • 11.
    Phoenix Rising / Margaret Lacy
    Label: Acis Productions   Catalog: 89385 Release Date: 03/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Marcel Dupré,  Robert Elmore,  Roy Perry,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Margaret Lacy
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 12.
    Barber: Cello Concerto, Sonata, Adagio / Poltera, Stott, Litton
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 1827 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber
    Performer:  Christian Poltera,  Kathryn Stott
    Conductor:  Andrew Litton
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Essential 20th Century Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 234372 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev,  Joaquin Rodrigo,  Aram Khachaturian,  Sir Edward Elgar  ... 
    Performer:  Jacqueline Du Pré,  Cécile Ousset,  Peter Donohoe,  Stomu Yamashta  ... 
    Conductor:  André Previn,  Simon Rattle,  Yuri Temirkanov,  Sir John Barbirolli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Modern
    CD: $12.99
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  • 14.
    Label: Reflections   Catalog: 57549 Release Date: 01/01/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Giacomo Puccini,  George Frideric Handel,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 15.
    Label: Ars Produktion   Catalog: 381335 Release Date: 01/01/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jean Sibelius,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Franz Waxman,  Henri Wieniawski  ... 
    Performer:  Arata Yumi,  Mone Hattori,  Zakhar Bron
    Conductor:  Zakhar Bron
    SuperAudio CD: $19.99
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  • 16.
    Label: Somerset Entertainment   Catalog: 55983 Release Date: 01/01/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Pachelbel,  Claude Debussy,  Tomaso Albinoni,  Erik Satie  ... 
    Performer:  Klára Körmendi,  Péter Nagy,  Judy Loman,  Nora Shulman  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Edlinger,  Christian Pollack,  Marin Alsop,  Jerzy Maksymiuk  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Istropolitana,  Aradia Ensemble,  Concentus Hungaricus
    CD: $18.99
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  • 17.
    Label: Mood Media Entertainment   Catalog: 56931 Release Date: 01/01/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Pachelbel,  Claude Debussy,  Tomaso Albinoni,  Erik Satie  ... 
    Performer:  Klára Körmendi,  Péter Nagy,  Judy Loman,  Nora Shulman  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Edlinger,  Christian Pollack,  Marin Alsop,  Jerzy Maksymiuk  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Istropolitana,  Aradia Ensemble,  Concentus Hungaricus
    On sale! $21.96
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  • 18.
    50 Shades Of Classical
    Label: Cleopatra   Catalog: 159 Release Date: 11/27/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Gabriel Fauré,  Franz Liszt,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Performer:  Danielle Dechenne,  Henrik Lagendaal,  Nora Ksendzov,  Dubravka Tomsic  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Raucheisen,  Zdenek Chabala,  Ferdinand Lang,  Zoltan Kovats  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Caspar da Salo Quartett
    CD: $12.99
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  • 19.
    Fifty Shades Of Emotions
    Label: Belmondo   Catalog: 53 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Samuel Barber,  Claude Debussy,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    CD: $14.99
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  • 20.
    Eugene Ormandy Conducts 20th Century Classics
    Label: Sony (Nax615)   Catalog: 417202 Release Date: 11/06/2012   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Gustav Holst,  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Modest Mussorgsky  ... 
    Performer:  John Williams,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Van Cliburn,  Isaac Stern  ... 
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Mendelssohn Club Chorus Philadelphia,  Rutgers University Chorus
    Recommendation
    On sale! $34.98
    CD: $32.99
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  • 21.
    Essential Film Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 5134 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Richard Wagner,  James Horner,  John T. Williams  ... 
    Performer:  David Bell,  Cécile Ousset,  Manuel Barrueco,  Steve Morse  ... 
    Conductor:  Klaus Tennstedt,  Mariss Jansons,  David Abel,  Geoff Love  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 22.
    The Greatest Classical Music Ever!: The Best Classical Music In The Movies Ever!
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 04105 Release Date: 09/18/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Edvard Grieg,  Stanley Myers,  James Horner,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Manuel Barrueco,  Steve Morse,  James Horner,  David Abel  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Riccardo Muti,  Iain Sutherland,  Eugene Ormandy  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 23.
    Neeme Jarvi - Highlights From A Remarkable 30 Year Recording Career
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 24144 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák,  Johan Halvorsen,  Gustav Mahler,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Melina Madozzi,  Linda Finnie,  Felicity Lott,  Suzanne Murphy  ... 
    Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
    CD: $18.99
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  • 24.
    Copland: Fanfare For The Common Man; Barber: Adagio
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001706402 Release Date: 07/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Aaron Copland
    Conductor:  David Zinman,  Zubin Mehta
    CD: $8.99
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  • 25.
    Arturo Toscanini - The Complete RCA Collection
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 791631 Release Date: 07/10/2012   Number of Discs: 85
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Joseph Haydn  ... 
    Performer:  Eileen Farrell,  Nan Merriman,  Jan Peerce,  Norman Scott  ... 
    Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra,  Robert Shaw Chorale,  NBC Symphony Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $149.98
    CD: $69.99
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