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: Adagio for Strings, Piano & Violin Concertos & Choral Pieces
Release Date: 06/03/2016   Label: Musical Concepts  
Catalog: 1309   Number of Discs: 1
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Barber: Choral Music / Spicer, Brimingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir
Release Date: 09/01/2015   Label: Somm  
Catalog: 152   Number of Discs: 1
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Barber: Souvenirs & Recollections - Early & Late Piano Music / Nuti, De Santis
Release Date: 04/08/2014   Label: Stradivarius  
Catalog: 33939   Number of Discs: 1
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Menotti, Barber: Violin Concerti / Ricci, Clark, Pacific Sym
Release Date: 12/17/1993   Label: Reference Recordings  
Catalog: 45   Number of Discs: 1
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Royal Mezzo - Barber: Andromache's Farewell;  Britten: Phaedra;  Ravel, Berlioz / Kalmar, Et Al
Release Date: 06/10/2008   Label: Cedille Records  
Catalog: 104   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Adagio for Strings, Op. 11

Browse 1-25 of 155 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    American Classics
    Label: Indesens   Catalog: 78 Release Date: 06/24/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Georges Delerue,  Aaron Copland,  Samuel Barber,  Leonard Bernstein  ... 
    Performer:  Eric Aubier,  Philippe Berrod,  Nicolas Prost,  Laurent Wagschal  ... 
    Conductor:  Sébastien Billard,  Claude Schnitzler,  Fabrice Colas
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Garde Republicaine Orchestra,  Bretagne Symphony Orchestra,  Paris Light Band
    CD: $18.99
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  • 2.
    Copland, Barber, Bernstein & Schuman: Orchestral Works / Bernstein, L.A. Philharmonic
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002475402 Release Date: 04/29/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland,  William Schuman,  Samuel Barber,  Leonard Bernstein
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
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    CD: $12.99
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  • 3.
    Works For String Orchestra
    Label: Audite   Catalog: 95639 Release Date: 02/12/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arcangelo Corelli,  Gioachino Rossini,  Paul Hindemith,  Dmitri Shostakovich  ... 
    Performer:  Antonio Janigro,  Stefano Passaggio
    Conductor:  Antonio Janigro
    CD: $14.99
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  • 4.
    100 Best Film Classics
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 553645 Release Date: 01/08/2016   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Alfred Newman,  Richard Strauss,  John T. Williams,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Nicolai Gedda,  Ernest Blanc,  Augustin Dumay,  Gary Hoffman  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul Bateman,  Rudolf Kempe,  Geoff Love,  Mariss Jansons  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Jean-Marie Leclair,  The Hungarian Quartet,  Il Giardino Armonico  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 5.
    Kirov Classics - The Kirov Ballet [DVD]
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 101798 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Igor Stravinsky,  Samuel Barber,  Adolphe Adam  ... 
    Conductor:  Viktor Fedotov
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Petersburg Mariinsky Theater Orchestra
    On sale! $29.99
    DVD: $23.99
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  • 6.
    Kirov Classics The Kirov Ballet [Blu-ray]
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 101799 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Igor Stravinsky,  Samuel Barber,  Adolphe Adam  ... 
    Conductor:  Viktor Fedotov
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Petersburg Mariinsky Theater Orchestra
    Blu-ray Video: $39.99
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  • 7.
    The History of Classical Music in 24 Hours
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002403602 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 24
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Pérotin,  Guillaume de Machaut,  John Dunstable  ... 
    Performer:  Konrad Ragossnig,  Charles [Tenor Vocals] Daniels,  Susan Gritton,  Trevor Pinnock  ... 
    Conductor:  Pater Godehard Joppich,  David Munrow,  Josef Ulsamer,  Bruno Turner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Early Music Consort of London,  Ulsamer-Collegium,  Hamburger Bläserkreis für Alte Musik  ... 
    CD: $75.49
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  • 8.
    Classics For The People Vol 1 / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94982 Release Date: 10/28/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Richard Wagner,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Sir Edward Elgar  ... 
    Performer:  Wynne Evans,  Donald Maxwell,  Deborah Norman
    Conductor:  Owain Arwel Hughes,  Philip Ellis,  Nick Davies
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Goldsmith's Choral Union Choir
    CD: $11.99
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  • 9.
    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  ... 
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  • 10.
    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: $184.99
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  • 11.
    Vibrez! / Cellophony
    Label: Edition Classics   Catalog: 1047 Release Date: 08/19/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Franz Schubert,  Franz Liszt,  Henri Wieniawski  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cellophony
    CD: $18.99
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  • 12.
    The Argo Years / Marriner, Academy of St Martin in the Fields
    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
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    CD: $98.99
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  • 13.
    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: $259.49
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  • 14.
    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
    CD: $22.99
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  • 15.
    Label: Priory Records   Catalog: 1096 Release Date: 01/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jean Langlais,  Marco Lo Muscio,  Samuel Barber,  Paolo Lazzeri  ... 
    Performer:  Marco Lo Muscio
    On sale! $21.98
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  • 16.
    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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  • 17.
    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:  Helen Watts,  Marilyn Tyler,  Birgit Nilsson,  Claudia Hellmann  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly,  Sir Georg Solti,  Stanley Black,  Antal Doráti  ... 
    CD: $11.99
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  • 18.
    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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  • 19.
    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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  • 20.
    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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  • 21.
    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: $13.99
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  • 22.
    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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  • 23.
    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: $13.99
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  • 24.
    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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  • 25.
    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:  Steve Morse,  Manuel Barrueco,  James Horner,  David Abel  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Riccardo Muti,  Iain Sutherland,  Eugene Ormandy  ... 
    CD: $7.99
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