The Kennedy Center

Samuel Barber


An American composer, born March 1910 in Pennsylvania, Samuel Barber was popularly known for his romantic and European compositions, mostly tonal. At age seven, he wrote his first piece, followed by an opera at ten. Thereafter, he studied voice, piano, composition and conducting at Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, where he later briefly taught. He also studied in Rome, through a scholarship award from American Academy’s Prix de Rome (1936). He was later elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Barber garnered huge success in his work. His major-award-winning compositions and honors include the opera, Vanessa (1956) for which he won a Pulitzer price, Anthony and Cleopatra, commissioned to open the new Metropolitan Opera House (New York City), and School of Scandal, which won him an award in 1933. His famed and dynamic masterpiece, Adagio for Strings (extracted from String Quartet, 1936) was played a couple of years later, by NBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by the famous master - Toscanini.
He worked on various outstanding music pieces. His ballet scores are Medea and Souvenirs. In addition to piano sonatas: Ballade and Excursions for piano, he composed violin, cello, flute, trumpet and strings concerti. He arranged orchestral music (symphonies), vocal and choral music such as Knoxville: Summer of 1915 (1947) for soprano and orchestra, etc. He died in 1981.
Samuel Barber


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