Barber, Samuel

Barber, Samuel
born March 9, 1910, West Chester, Pa., U.S.
died Jan. 23, 1981, New York, N.Y.

U.S. composer.

He studied piano, voice, conducting, and composition at the Curtis Institute. After graduation in 1934, he devoted himself to composition. Barber's style, frequently lyrical and neo-Romantic, proved highly attractive to the public. His works include the popular Adagio for Strings (1936), two Essays for Orchestra (1937, 1942), the opera Vanessa (1957, Pulitzer Prize), and a Piano Concerto (1962, Pulitzer Prize).

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▪ American composer
born March 9, 1910, West Chester, Pa., U.S.
died Jan. 23, 1981, New York, N.Y.

      American composer who is considered one of the most expressive representatives of the lyric and Romantic trends in 20th-century classical music.

      Barber studied the piano from an early age and soon began to compose. In 1924 he entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where, in addition to piano and composition, he studied singing and conducting. After graduation in 1934, Barber devoted himself entirely to composition. His style was distinctive and modern but not experimental. He established his reputation with his overture to The School for Scandal (1933), based on Richard Sheridan's comedy by that name, and with Music for a Scene from Shelley (1935), inspired by the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (Shelley, Percy Bysshe)'s Prometheus Unbound.

      Although many of Barber's works make literary allusions, his music is not programmatic in the strict sense. Significant in this respect are the two Essays for Orchestra (1938, 1942), which are intended as musical counterparts of the literary form. Structural considerations govern Barber's instrumental writing; there is great astringency in harmony, but the basic tonality remains secure; the rhythmic lines are very strong, without loss of coherence.

      In 1936 Barber composed his String Quartet. Its slow movement, arranged for string orchestra, was performed under the title Adagio for Strings by the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini in 1938 and acquired extraordinary popularity in the United States and Europe.

      Barber's Symphony No. 1 (1936; rev. 1942) is in the Romantic tradition. In the Symphony No. 2 (1944; rev. 1947), commissioned by the U.S. Army Air Forces (which he had joined in 1943), Barber introduced an electronic instrument imitating radio signals for air navigation, an effect replaced in the revised version by an E-flat clarinet.

      Barber also wrote a Violin Concerto (1941) and a Cello Concerto (1946). His Piano Sonata (1949) is a monument of 20th-century American piano music. His other compositions include Dover Beach, for voice and string quartet (1931); three vocal works with orchestra, Knoxville: Summer of 1915 (1948), Prayers of Kierkegaard (1954), and Andromache's Farewell (1962); and Medea (1947). His opera Vanessa, with libretto by longtime partner Gian Carlo Menotti (Menotti, Gian Carlo) and produced by the Metropolitan Opera Association, New York City, in 1958, was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.

      Barber's Piano Concerto (1962) brought him new international success and another Pulitzer Prize. His opera Antony and Cleopatra inaugurated the new auditorium of the Metropolitan Opera Association at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in 1966. After a period of creative inactivity, Barber resumed composing for orchestra. The Lovers and Fadograph of a Yestern Scene were first performed in 1971, and Third Essay for Orchestra had its premiere in 1980.

Additional Reading
Nathan Broder, Samuel Barber (1954); Donald A. Hennessee, Samuel Barber: A Bio-Bibliography (1985); Barbara B. Heyman, Samuel Barber: The Composer and His Music (1992).

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Barber,Samuel — Bar·ber (bärʹbər), Samuel. 1910 1981. American composer whose works include Adagio for Strings (1936) and the opera Vanessa (1958), for which he won a Pulitzer Prize. * * * …   Universalium

  • Samuel Barber — Samuel Osborne Barber II (March 9, 1910 – January 23, 1981) was an American composer of orchestral, opera, choral, and piano music. His Adagio for Strings is among his most popular compositions and widely considered a masterwork of modern… …   Wikipedia

  • Samuel Barber — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Samuel Barber, fotografiado por Carl Van Vechten en 1944 Samuel Osborne Barber fue un compositor estadounidense de música clásica. Nació en West Chester (Pensilvania) el 9 de marzo de …   Wikipedia Español

  • Samuel Osborne Barber — Samuel Barber (* 9. März 1910 in West Chester, Pennsylvania; † 23. Januar 1981 in New York) war ein US amerikanischer Komponist. Samuel Barber, fotografiert von Carl van Vechten, 1944 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • BARBER (S.) — BARBER SAMUEL (1910 1981) Compositeur américain né à West Chester (Pennsylvanie), Samuel Barber reçoit très tôt une formation de pianiste et d’organiste avant d’étudier au Curtis Institute de Philadelphie (1924 1932) avec Rosario Scalero,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Barber — Barber, Samuel * * * (as used in expressions) Barber, Red Walter Lanier Barber Barber, Samuel …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Samuel — samuel. m. C. Rica. Acción de samuelear. || echar un samuel. fr. C. Rica. samuelear. * * * Samuel, Herbert Louis (Šemū´ēl) …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Samuel Barber — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Barber. Samuel Barber …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Barber — /bahr beuhr/, n. Samuel, 1910 81, U.S. composer. * * * (as used in expressions) Barber Red Walter Lanier Barber Barber Samuel * * *       a person whose primary activities in the 20th century are trimming and styling the hair of men, shaving them …   Universalium

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