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Happy 100th Birthday Samuel Barber

I was meant to be a composer and will be I’m sure. Don’t ask me to try to forget this unpleasant thing and go play football – please.” – by Samuel Barber

For some, he’s a guilty pleasure; especially when one reads comments by the big guns (notably Copland) who condemn him with faint praise. But for those of us who want to sing and compose, Sam’s always an inspiration. Here’s his elegant recording of his own “Dover Beach,” for baritone and string quartet.



Comment from Tom Myron
Time: March 9, 2010, 5:05 pm

Very nice Professor Carey. Thank you. Some random 100th B-Day opinions:

He could have been a ‘big gun’- instead he was just a great composer. No ‘big gun’ has written anything that comes close to Knoxville Summer. A great live performance of the Second Essay will knock you out, guaranteed. The Violin Concerto repays careful study. A live recording of Horowitz playing the Sonata will melt your speakers. Faint praise grows fainter all the time.

Comment from Christian
Time: March 9, 2010, 7:14 pm

Thanks Tom. You’re right on all counts. We had a mini-Barber fest in my classes today. We listened to the Dover Beach recording, the Agnus Dei arrangement of the Adagio, and “I Hear an Army.” We also talked about Knoxville and the Hermit Songs. Terrific stuff.

Comment from Eric Shanfield
Time: March 9, 2010, 8:10 pm


Comment from Frank J. Oteri
Time: March 10, 2010, 12:39 pm

Also: Vanessa, which received the Pulitzer Prize, is an extraordinary opera. And Summer Music is one of the finest wind quintets. The Piano Concerto, for which Barber got his second Pulitzer (one of only 4 composers to ever receive 2; the others are Piston, Menotti, and Carter), is also really worthy of a revival; it’s actually turning on more programs these days than it used to.

Comment from John Kennedy
Time: March 10, 2010, 6:28 pm

Indeed, thanks for noting this and celebrating a great composer. School for Scandal and Symphony No. 1, are spectacular pieces I will never tire of, with their own place and commentary on the transitions of the era.