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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 176-200 of 211 Available Recordings
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  • 176.
    Barber / Schippers, New York Philharmonic
    Label: Sony Classical Masterworks   Catalog: 62837 Release Date: 01/14/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Vincent D'Indy,  Alban Berg,  Gian Carlo Menotti,  Samuel Barber
    Performer:  Martina Arroyo
    Conductor:  Thomas Schippers
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Symphony Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic
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  • 177.
    Exile On Classical Street
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 452500 Release Date: 08/13/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Igor Stravinsky,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Julian Bream,  Itzhak Perlman,  Cecilia Bartoli,  György Fischer  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti,  Ernest Ansermet,  James Levine,  David Zinman  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  Borodin String Quartet  ... 
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  • 178.
    Pastorale / Flute Force, Julius Baker
    Label: Vai Audio   Catalog: 1133 Release Date: 06/18/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Claude Debussy,  Anton Reicha,  Igor Stravinsky  ... 
    Performer:  Julius Baker,  Gretchen Pusch,  Rie Schmidt,  Wendy Stern  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Flute Force
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  • 179.
    Nocturne / Leonard Bernstein
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 62617 Release Date: 06/11/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Engelbert Humperdinck,  Aaron Copland,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Jean Sibelius  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
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  • 180.
    Adagio - J.s. Bach, Albinoni, Marcello, Mozart, Bruch, Et Al
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8550994 Release Date: 01/04/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tomaso Albinoni,  Samuel Barber,  Joaquin Rodrigo,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Anthony Camden,  Norbert Kraft,  Ernst Ottensamer,  Takako Nishizaki  ... 
    Conductor:  John Georgiadis,  Nicholas Ward,  Johannes Wildner,  Stephen Gunzenhauser  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Virtuosi,  Capella Istropolitana,  Northern Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 181.
    Barber: Adagio;  Gerber: The Old Farmer's Almanac / Vogel
    Label: Gall (Formerly Gallo)   Catalog: 742 Release Date: 12/12/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  René Gerber,  Samuel Barber
    Conductor:  Winston Dan Vogel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bucharest George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 182.
    Inner Peace - Classics For The Spirit
    Label: Sony Classical Infinity Digital   Catalog: 61977 Release Date: 11/14/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Gustav Holst,  Samuel Barber,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Oleg Malov,  Natalya Taldykina,  Nodar Gabunia,  Alexander Kiskachin  ... 
    Conductor:  Alexander Titov,  Vato Kahi,  Jahni Mardjani,  Stanislav Gorkovenko  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Petersburg New Classical Orchestra,  Georgian Festival Orchestra,  Georgian Festival Chorus  ... 
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  • 183.
    Orchestral Favourites Vol 1 / Boughton, Et Al
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7019 Release Date: 11/07/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Holst,  Samuel Barber,  Edvard Grieg,  Johann Pachelbel  ... 
    Conductor:  William Boughton
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English String Orchestra
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  • 184.
    The London Trombone Sound
    Label: Cala Records   Catalog: 108 Release Date: 10/24/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Gershwin,  Eric Clapton,  Henry Mancini,  Claudio Monteverdi  ... 
    Performer:  Richard Edwards
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orch Trombones,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Trombones,  BBC Symphony Orchestra Trombones  ... 
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  • 185.
    Barber: Horizon / Barra, Golden, Arioso Wind Quintet, San Diego CO
    Label: Koch International Classics   Catalog: 7206 Release Date: 06/27/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber
    Performer:  Ruth Golden
    Conductor:  Donald Barra
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arioso Wind Quintet,  San Diego Chamber Orchestra
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  • 186.
    The American Composers Series - Music Of Samuel Barber
    Label: Vox Box   Catalog: 5091 Release Date: 04/16/1995   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Howard Hanson,  Samuel Barber
    Performer:  Eugene List,  Abbott Ruskin
    Conductor:  Carter Nice,  David Epstein,  Andrew Schenck
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ljubljana Symphony Orchestra,  MIT Symphony Orchestra,  New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
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  • 187.
    Dello Joio: Triumph Of St. Joan; Chaconne, Variations & Fugue; Barber: Adagio / Sedares
    Label: Koch International Classics   Catalog: 7243 Release Date: 01/25/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Norman Dello Joio
    Conductor:  James Sedares
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
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  • 188.
    Movies - Greatest Hits
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 66709 Release Date: 12/06/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Johann Strauss Sr.,  William Byrd,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Leo Nucci,  Vladimir Feltsman,  Nina Stemme,  Adriana Morelli  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly,  Leonard Bernstein,  Zubin Mehta,  Raymond Leppard  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic,  Canadian Brass  ... 
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  • 189.
    Classics For Chamber Orchestra
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 180 Release Date: 09/22/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Hans Christian Lumbye,  Witold Lutoslawski,  Jean Sibelius  ... 
    Performer:  Per-Olof Gillblad,  Christine Mühlbach
    Conductor:  Jan Olav Wedin,  Leif Segerstam
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stockholm Sinfonietta,  Vestjysk Chamber Ensemble,  Helsinki Chamber Orchestra
    CD: $21.49
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  • 190.
    In A Quiet Cathedral / Todd Wilson
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3145 Release Date: 08/02/1994   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Benoit, Paul, Dom,  William Henry Harris,  Jean Langlais,  Leo Sowerby  ... 
    Performer:  Todd Wilson
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  • 191.
    Classical Music For People Who Hate Classical Music
    Label: Classical Heritage   Catalog: 1212 Release Date: 06/09/1994   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Johann Strauss Sr.  ... 
    Performer:  Hans-Christoph Becker-Foss,  Anna Lelkes,  Philippe Entremont,  Joseph Brezina  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Salzburg Camerata Academica,  London Festival Orchestra,  Vienna Volksoper Orchestra  ... 
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  • 192.
    Romantic Favorites - Tchaikovsky, Barber, Puccini, Et Al
    Label: Sony Classical Infinity Digital   Catalog: 57247 Release Date: 05/31/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Performer:  Nelly Lee
    Conductor:  Vato Kahi,  Franco Mannino,  Arnold Kaz,  Jahni Mardjani
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Georgian Festival Orchestra,  Academic Symphony Orchestra St. Petersburg,  Novosibirsk Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra
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  • 193.
    Meditations For A Quiet Night - Delius, Barber, Elgar, Et Al
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7007 Release Date: 05/02/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Charles Hubert Parry,  Aaron Copland,  Jean Sibelius  ... 
    Conductor:  William Boughton
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English String Orchestra,  English Symphony Orchestra
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  • 194.
    101 Great Orchestral Classics Vol 9
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 551149 Release Date: 02/15/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Max Bruch,  Antonín Dvorák,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Takako Nishizaki,  Stefan Vladar
    Conductor:  Zdenek Kosler,  Stephen Gunzenhauser,  Jaroslav Krcek,  Barry Wordsworth  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra,  Capella Istropolitana,  Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 195.
    James Galway - The Lark In The Clear Air
    Label: Rca Victor   Catalog: 61379 Release Date: 02/15/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Edvard Grieg,  Claude Debussy,  Johann Paul A. Martini  ... 
    Performer:  Hiro Fujikake,  James Galway
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  • 196.
    Richard Stoltzman - Dreams
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 61936 Release Date: 01/18/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Eric Clapton,  Paul McCartney,  Stevie Wonder,  Ennio Morricone  ... 
    Performer:  Richard Stoltzman,  Jeremy Wall,  Dave Samuels,  Eddie Gomez
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  • 197.
    Barber, Bristow: Symphonies, Etc / Järvi, Detroit So
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 9169 Release Date: 12/30/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frederick Bristow,  Samuel Barber
    Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra
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  • 198.
    Classics For All Seasons - Autumn
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80327 Release Date: 08/24/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  César Franck,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Bedrich Smetana  ... 
    Performer:  John Korman,  Beverly Schiebler,  John Sant'Ambrogio,  Thomas Dumm  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Kunzel,  Jesús Lopez-Cobos,  Leonard Slatkin,  Zdenek Macal  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cincinnati Pops,  Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra,  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 199.
    Mad About American Music
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 439521 Release Date: 08/10/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Aaron Copland,  Leonard Bernstein,  George Gershwin
    Performer:  Leonard Bernstein
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD not available
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  • 200.
    Strings - The Definitive Collection / Guildhall Ensemble
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 61275 Release Date: 07/13/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Pachelbel,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Roman Hoffstetter  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Nicholson
    Conductor:  Paul Nicholson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Guildhall String Ensemble
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