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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 201-210 of 210 Available Recordings
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  • 201.
    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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  • 202.
    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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  • 203.
    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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  • 204.
    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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  • 205.
    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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  • 206.
    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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  • 207.
    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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  • 208.
    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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  • 209.
    Gershwin: Rhapsody In Blue;  Bernstein, Barber / Bernstein
    Label: Dg 3d Classics   Catalog: 427806 Release Date: 03/29/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leonard Bernstein,  Samuel Barber,  George Gershwin
    Performer:  Louise Edeiken,  Tatiana Troyanos,  Leonard Bernstein
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra,  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra,  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 210.
    Label: Cala Records   Catalog: 0108 Release Date: 11/01/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Eric Crees,  Henry Mancini,  George Gershwin,  Claudio Monteverdi  ... 
    Performer:  Colin Sheen,  Roger Harvey,  Keith McNichol,  Michael Hext  ... 
    Conductor:  Geoffrey Simon
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