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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
March 9
Can You Guess? Our subject for today's article, Samuel Barber, had a rather unusual middle name.  Can You Guess Barber's middle name?

Look at the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
What Else
Happened
Today?
1813 - First concert of the London Philharmonic Society, Johann Peter Salomon conducting, Clementi pianist and Viotti in the orchestra.

1831 - Italian violin virtuoso Nicolo Paganini made his Paris debut at the Opéra. The audience included composers Meyerbeer, Cherubini, Halvéy, and Franz Liszt.

1839 - Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky was born.

1869 - Death of French composer Hector Berlioz at the age of 62, in Paris

1896
- Premiere of S. Rachmaninoff's The Rock in Moscow.

1930 - American composer and jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman, in Forth Worth, Texas

1936 - Country singer Mickey Gilley was born.

1991
- Premiere of Daniel Asia's At the Far Edge for orchestra. Seattle Youth Symphony, Ruben Gurevich conducting.

2000
- Premiere of Karen Tanaka's At the Grave of Beethoven. Brodsky Quartet, in London.

2000
- Premiere of John Tavener's The Lord's Prayer. Tallis Scholars in Guildford, England.
Samuel Barber
1910-1981
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American composer Samuel Barber was born March 9, 1910.

Barber began studying piano at 6,  wrote his first piece at age 7 and attempted his first opera when he was just 10.  When Barber was 12 he already was a church organist.  At the age of 14 he entered the Curtis Institute, where he studied voice, piano, and composition. He would later study conducting with Fritz Reiner.
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Besides studying composition at Curtis, Barber also showed a great deal of talent as a singer.  It is said that he had a wonderful baritone voice.

While he was still at the Curtis Institute Barber wrote his Serenade for String Quartet, Opus 1. It is romantic in the same way that Carl Nielsen's Little Suite for Strings is, and some people consider it a student work, but by the time he had completed his fifth opus (Overture to the School for Scandal) he was striding into new musical territory.

One of the characteristics of Barber's work is that it is very melodic.  This alone made him controversial.  He was not easy to classify and did not belong to any one school.

By 1939 Barber was well into a transitional period.  His music was changing, and the violin concerto he wrote that year shows those changes.  The first two movements have that sweet, lyrical feel for which he was becoming known, but the third movement seems much more modern.  Barber shows more dissonance.  The rhythms are more complex, and many people indicate that he seems to be influenced by modern composers.  While the music of Richard Strauss had always been an influence in Barber's works, he is now becoming influenced by people such as Stravinsky.
Barber
Barber Violin Concerto
Performed by Hilary Hahn
Barber
An OUTSTANDING Recording of Barber's Works conducted by Leonard Slatkin
Did You Guess?
If you saw the color clues you had no trouble guessing that Samuel Barber's middle name was Osborne.
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After World War II Barber continued composing, and his work is quite varied.  A tocatta and fugue for organ and orchestra, a woodwind quintet, a piano concerto, and operas were among his works.
Many of Barber's works were never published.  For example he wrote more than 100 songs, but only published 38.  But the music community loved many of Barber's published work, and they quickly entered the standard repertoire.

Antony and Cleopatra (1966) seemed to change all that.  He received a commission from the Metropolitan Opera to inaugurate its new residence at Lincoln Center.  The piece was well received in the United States, but it was not popular at all in Europe.  In fact criticisms were written that said that Barber was no longer relevant to the music scene. 

After that Barber's composing was very sporadic.  He worked to revise Antony and Cleopatra, and it was released in 1974.  Barber's later works were not often performed during his life.

Samuel Barber received many awards for his music, including the American Prix de Rome Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He continued to produce works throughout his life.

Samuel Barber died on January 23, 1981.  While almost everything Barber wrote has been recorded, his best known works are probably his earlier ones.  You are listening to a midi version of his Adagio for Strings.
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