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Samuel Barber

Samuel Barber

Biography

Though the structural logic of American-born composer Samuel Barber proves him to be a dutiful student of Bach, the emotional potency of his most famous works -- namely Overture to the School for Scandal (Op. 5, 1931), Second Essay for Orchestra (Op. 17, 1942), and the ubiquitous Adagio for strings (Op. 11, 1938) -- evidence a great devotion to Brahms' dramatic romanticism. Born in West Chester, Penn., on March 9, 1910, Barber entered the Curtis Institute at 14. There, he met his lifelong lover and collaborator, Gian Carlo Menotti, who supplied libretti for Barber's operas, including Vanessa, which won the Pulitzer. During the '30s and '40s, Barber was among the most successful and widely-performed American composers, and many of his works, including his Violin Concerto (Op. 14, 1939) and a setting of James Agee's Knoxville: Summer of 1915 (Op. 24, 1948), are widely performed today. Though his 1966 opera, Anthony and Cleopatra, debuted at the opening of the Metropolitan Opera House, it was so poorly received that he was discouraged and unproductive during his final years. He died in New York on January 23, 1981.
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