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
America - Copland, Reich, Cage, Feldman, Bernstein, Barber / Creed, SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart
Release Date: 03/25/2014   Label: Hänssler Classic  
Catalog: 93306   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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Work: Adagio for Strings, Op. 11

Browse 201-225 of 228 Available Recordings
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  • 201.
    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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  • 202.
    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  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 203.
    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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  • 204.
    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
    CD: $24.99
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  • 205.
    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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  • 206.
    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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  • 207.
    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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  • 208.
    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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  • 209.
    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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  • 210.
    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
    CD not available
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  • 211.
    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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  • 212.
    Ginastera, Gershwin, Etc / Nilson, Örebro Chamber Orchestra
    Label: Bluebell   Catalog: 53 Release Date: 12/07/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Ives,  Heitor Villa-Lobos,  Samuel Barber,  George Gershwin  ... 
    Conductor:  Göran W. Nilson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orebro Chamber Orchestra
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  • 213.
    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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  • 214.
    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
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  • 215.
    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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  • 216.
    The Telarc Collection Vol 8
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 89108 Release Date: 06/29/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Modest Mussorgsky,  Aaron Copland,  Jean Sibelius,  Dmitri Shostakovich  ... 
    Conductor:  Yoel Levi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 217.
    Barber: Adagio, Symphony No 1, Etc / Zinman, Baltimore So
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 436288 Release Date: 10/13/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber
    Conductor:  David Zinman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
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  • 218.
    Barber: Knoxville, Etc / Levi, McNair, Atlanta SO
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80250 Release Date: 02/11/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber
    Performer:  Sylvia McNair
    Conductor:  Yoel Levi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
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  • 219.
    Bernstein Favorites - The 20th Century
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 46715 Release Date: 05/03/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Ferde Grofé,  Ralph Vaughan Williams  ... 
    Performer:  Gary Graffman,  John Corigliano Sr.,  David Nadien,  Carl Stern  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Columbia Symphony Orchestra
    CD not available
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  • 220.
    Barber Adagio And Other Romantic Favorites For Strings
    Label: Cbs Great Performances   Catalog: 38484 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Samuel Barber
    Performer:  David Nadien
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
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  • 221.
    Barber: Adagio For Strings; Ives, Copland, Creston / Marriner, Asmf
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 417818 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Creston,  Henry Cowell,  Aaron Copland,  Charles Ives  ... 
    Performer:  Celia Nicklin,  Michael Laird
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
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  • 222.
    Music of Samuel Barber / Slatkin, St. Louis
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 49463 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber
    Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
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  • 223.
    The Canadian Brass - More Greatest Hits
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 5628 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Thomas "Fats" Waller,  Gioachino Rossini,  Gerardo Matos Rodríguez  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Canadian Brass
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  • 224.
    Twentieth Century Classics / Marriner, Academy Of St Martin
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 420155 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir William Walton,  Heitor Villa-Lobos,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Erik Satie  ... 
    Performer:  Karita Mattila
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
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  • 225.
    Vaughan Williams, Barber, Grainger, Fauré / Slatkin, St Louis So
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80059 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Erik Satie,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Percy Aldridge Grainger,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Performer:  John Korman,  Beverly Schiebler,  John Sant'Ambrogio,  Thomas Dumm
    Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
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