Samuel Barber

Samuel Barber's music, masterfully crafted and built on romantic structures and sensibilities, is at once lyrical, rhythmically complex, and harmonically rich. Born 9 March 1910 in West Chester, Pennsylvania, Barber wrote his first piece at age 7 and attempted his first opera at age 10. At the age of 14 he entered the Curtis Institute, where he studied voice, piano, and composition. Later, he studied conducting with Fritz Reiner.

At Curtis, Barber met Gian Carlo Menotti with whom he would form a lifelong personal and professional relationship. Menotti supplied libretti for Barber's operas Vanessa (for which Barber won the Pulitzer) and A Hand of Bridge. Barber's music was championed by a remarkable range of renowned artists, musicians, and conductors including Vladimir Horowitz, John Browning, Martha Graham, Arturo Toscanini, Dmitri Mitropoulos, Jennie Tourel, and Eleanor Steber. His Antony and Cleopatra was commissioned to open the new Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center in 1966.

Barber was the recipient of numerous awards and prizes including the American Prix de Rome, two Pulitzers, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His intensely lyrical Adagio for Strings has become one of the most recognizable and beloved compositions, both in concerts and films ("Platoon," "The Elephant Man," "El Norte," "Lorenzo's Oil").

Year / Artwork Title Importance Medium
1931 Ouverture to the School of Scandal Opus 5 4.00 stars LP
S. Barber Comments:
New York Philharmonic cond. Thomas Schippers
1936 Adagio for Strings 4.00 stars LP
S. Barber Comments:
A tidy performance without to much pathos by: The Netherlands Chamber Orchestra cond. David Zinman
1936 Adagio for Strings 4.50 stars LP
S. Barber Comments:
Barber's Adagio for Strings gets a very polished performance by the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. The music is very well known. Oliver Stone used it in Plattoon. It is probably in ever funeral top-10. The rest of the album is a collection of American music.
1936 Adagio for Strings 4.00 stars LP
S. Barber Comments:
New York Philharmonic cond. Thomas Schipper
1936 Adagio for Strings 4.00 stars CD
S. Barber Comments:
Philadelphia Orchestra cond. Eugene Ormandy
1937 Essay for Orchestra No 1 Opus 12 4.00 stars CD
S. Barber Comments:
Detroit Symphony Orchestra cond. Neeme Jarvi
1939 Concerto for Violin and Orchestra Opus 14 4.00 stars LP
S. Barber Comments:
Isaac Stern - Violin
New York Philharmonic cond. Leonard Bernstein
1939 Concerto for Violin and Orchestra Opus 14 4.00 stars LP
S. Barber Comments:
Isaac Stern - Violin
New York Philharmonic cond. Leonard Bernstein
1942 Essay for Orchestra No 2 Opus 17 4.00 stars LP
S. Barber Comments:
New York Symphony Orchestra cond. Thomas Schippers
1942 Essay for Orchestra No 2 Opus 17 4.00 stars CD
S. Barber Comments:
Detroit Symphony Orchestra cond. Neeme Jarvi
1944 Capricorn Concerto Opus 21 4.00 stars LP
S. Barber Comments:
Solists, Eastman-Rochester Orchestra cond. Howard Hanson
S. Barber Comments:
Same recording on CD as on LP

Solists, Eastman-Rochester Orchestra cond. Howard Hanson

1946 Medea, Ballet Suite 4.00 stars LP
S. Barber Comments:
Solists, Eastman-Rochester Orchestra cond. Howard Hanson
S. Barber Comments:
Same recording on CD as on LP

Solists, Eastman-Rochester Orchestra cond. Howard Hanson

1949 Sonata Opus 26 4.00 stars CD
Comments:
Earl Wild - Piano
1955 Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance Opus 23a 4.00 stars LP
S. Barber Comments:
New York Philharmonic cond. Thomas Schippers
1962 Concerto for Piano and Orchestra Opus 38 4.00 stars LP
S. Barber Comments:
John Browning - Piano
Cleveland Orchestra cond. George Szell
1967 Mutations from Bach 4.00 stars CD
Charles Ives - Unaswered Question Comments:
London Gabrieli Brass Ensemble cond. Christopher Larkin
1978 Essay for Orchestra No 3 Opus 47 4.00 stars CD
S. Barber Comments:
Detroit Symphony Orchestra cond. Neeme Jarvi