Article

Samuel Barber

Jeffrey Wright

in Music

ISBN: 9780199757824
Published online June 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199757824-0068
Samuel Barber

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Samuel Barber, born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1910, knew from an early age that he wanted to compose music. Under the guidance of his uncle, the composer Sidney Homer, and his aunt, the Metropolitan Opera contralto Louise Homer, Barber quickly developed his innate musical abilities. He entered the Curtis Institute as part of the inaugural class in 1924, and it was here that he met his lifelong friend and partner Gian Carlo Menotti. Barber composed some of the most popular pieces of American art music, from his Adagio for Strings to his Knoxville: Summer of 1915. In addition to this success, Barber won two Pulitzer Prizes during his career and was commissioned to write an opera for the opening of the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center. The composer died of cancer in 1981. In his 2001 research guide on Samuel Barber, Wayne Wentzel (see Bibliographies) asserts that “serious studies of Samuel Barber and his music are not numerous.” While the scholarly literature on Barber remains comparatively small in relation to his presence and popularity in American culture, the state of Barber research is much improved compared to earlier in this century. Today, articles on Barber can be found in some of the leading musicological journals (American Music and Journal of Musicology, for example), and while Barbara Heyman’s 1992 biography (see Biographies) remains the only book-length study devoted entirely to Barber, a new generation of scholars are emerging who have embraced her book as a basis for more specific studies of Barber’s life and his relationship to the general development of American music.

Article.  4647 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Applied Music ; Ethnomusicology ; Music Theory and Analysis ; Musicology and Music History ; Music Education and Pedagogy

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