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Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
TODAY IS
July 25
Did You Guess?
Mozart liked to play
billiards!

Did you see the col
or clues?
Can You Guess?
Mozart believed that his best musical ideas came while walking or riding in a carraige, and sometimes played a game while composing. Can You Guess what game Mozart played?  Oh no, I think I've left the paper with the answer in my pocket.

Look at the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
What Else
Happened
Today?
Samuel Barber's Symphony No. 1 was first performed July 25, 1937 at the Salzburg Festival.  Arthur Rodzinski conducted the Vienna Philharmonic.

Samuel Barber was born March 9, 1910 in West Chester, PA. He wrote his first piece at age 7 and attempted his first opera when he was 10. At 14 he entered the Curtis Institute, where he studied voice, piano, and composition. He later studied conducting with Fritz Reiner.
1654 - Agostino Steffani,  Italian composer, organist and priest, was born in Castelfranco Veneto.

1788 - Mozart finished a Symphony he began on June 27th, the popular 40th in g. K.550.

1937 - Premiere of Aaron Copland's Music For Radio in CBS radio broadcast, he later renamed it Prairie Journal.

1970 - Premiere of Henri Dutilleux's Tout un monde lointain for Cello and Orchestra

1971 - The Beach Boys released their album Surf's Up.

1975 - A Chorus Line debuted on Broadway. The show closed in 1990 after 6,137 performances.
Throughout his life Barber was known for his wonderful melodies, although he never really established or stuck to a single style.  It is said that Barber just seemed to write beautiful music and actually became controversial because critics could not place him in a single category.  Barber said "It is said that I have no style at all but that doesn't matter. I just go on doing, as they say, my thing." Nevertheless, he received numerous awards: two Pulitzer prices (in 1958 for Vanessa and in 1963 for Piano Concerto No. 1), the American "Prix de Rome", and he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Barber made his mark early.  He wrote his Op. 1, Serenade for string quartet (which he later orchestrated for strings),  while he was still attending the Curtis Institute. It was considered a "student work," but it would lead to far more complex pieces.   While at Curtis he began to win acclaim with works such as Dover Beach (1931), written for himself to sing with string quartet.

Barber became a fellow of the American Academy in Rome in 1935. The following year he wrote his String Quartet in B minor, the second movement of which he later arranged for string orchestra as his Adagio for Strings.  You can hear a MIDI version of this piece by clicking HERE.

Barber produced three concertos for solo instruments and orchestra. The first, opus 14 for violin, came in 1939.  The concerto is a transitional work: the first two movements sing sweetly and intently; the last movement burns the barn down with complex meters and new dissonances.  In spite of this, though, Barber never lost his touch for rich, full melodies.

Continuous composing through the 1940s and 50s placed many of his works into the standard repertoire. His works include the Capricorn Concerto for flute, oboe, trumpet, and strings, Symphony No. 2,  the Cello Concerto, the ballet Medea, Souvenirs (a suite of nineteenth-century ballroom dances), the piano sonata, the Commando March for band, and Knoxville: Summer of 1915 for soprano and orchestra, a Canzonetta for oboe and strings, and three operas.

Although he seemed almost unstoppable in his success, in 1966 he suffered his greatest musical setback.  His opera
Antony and Cleopatra was not well received.  The piece was revised in 1974, but still did not receive the acclaim to which he was accustomed.  Critics proclaimed that Barber had become irrelevant.

Although Barber continued to compose, his later works were not performed much during his lifetime. Organizations which had once competed with one another to commission his works lost interest.

Samuel Barber died in New York City January 23, 1981.
Samuel Barber
1910-1981
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