Samuel Barber

Samuel Barber

Samuel Barber was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, USA on 9 March 1910. His musical ability emerged at an early age and he had already filled a post as an organist when he was twelve. He studied at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia with Rosario Scalero for composition, Isabelle Vengerova (piano) and Emilio de Gogorza (voice). He was later to return to the Institute to teach orchestration and composition. He began composing seriously in his late teenage years and by the age of twenty three an orchestral work, Overture to the School for Scandal, was performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra.

After serving in the Army Air Corp (which commissioned him to write his Second Symphony) during World War II he returned to live in the USA, near Mt. Kisco where he shared a house with another great American composer Gian Carlo Menotti. Most of his post-war works were written here. He won two Pulitzer prizes in 1958 (the opera Vanessa- text by Menotti) and 1963 (Concerto for Piano and Orchestra). The world premiere of the opera Antony and Cleopatra opened the new auditorium of the Metropolitan Opera at the Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts on 16 September 1966.

Although Barber is most popularly remembered for the Adagio for Strings, his compositions for voices are a significant part of his work. He was the nephew of the celebrated contralto Louise Homer and thus had access to many great singers and songs from an early age, later studying voice himself. This background is reflected in all his writing. One of the most significant and memorable qualities of his work is his ability to write sustained and flowing melodies. Combined with an undoubted skill in orchestration this lyricism produces an intense, emotional strength in his writing which was sustained throughout his career.

Choral Discography

The Sixteen: Barber - Agnus Dei

Agnus Dei
O Know To End As To Begin
Have You Seen The White Lily Grow?
O Do Not Wanton With Those Eyes
Against Jealousy
The Hour-Glass
Clapping Music
Spring Song
Court Song
Soldier’s Song
Help Us, O Lord
Thou, O Jehovah, Abideth Forever
Have Mercy On Us, O My Lord
Sing Ye Praises To Our King
Mary Hynes
Anthony O Daly
The Coolin
Acrostic Song From "Final Alice"

This collection of American choral music spanning the 20th century features familiar and less well-known composers, from the lyrical traditionalism of Samuel Barber by way of Bernstein and Copland to the counterpoint, rhythmic verve and neo-classicism of Irving Fine. The disc finishes with the dreamily haunting Acrostic Song from Final Alice by David del Tredici.

7908 CD $16.98

Dale Warland Singers: Reincarnations

The Hour Glass (Irving Fine):
- O know to end as to begin
- Have you seen the white lily grow
- O do not wanton with those eyes
- Against Jealousy
- Lament
- The Hour-Glass
Tom o'Bedlam (Jacob Avshalomov)
Reincarnations (Samuel Barber):
- When again all these rare perfections meet
- All-circling point
- His body was an orb
- On a round ball
- Nor do I doubt
- See how the arched Earth
Psalm 90 (Charles Ives)

Reincarnations is a program of five American masterworks and includes one world premier recording (Tom o'Bedlam). "The Hour Glass" by Irving Fine is difficult and virtuosic cycle, written in a lyrical style just before his 12-tone experimentation. "Tom o'Bedlam" by Jacob Avshlomov is based on a text about one of the patients of the insane asylum, St. Mary of Bethlehem, in 16th century. Accompanied by oboe and percussion, this powerful piece mimics the nonsense and madness in the text. "Reincarnations" by Samuel Barber is a set of three pieces which uses James Stephen's re-writing of old Gaelic poetry and includes the absolutely gorgeous setting of "The Coolin (The Fair Haired One)." All of the works on this recording are demanding but skillfully sung by the incomparable Dale Warland Singers.

7237 CD $15.98

Dunedin Consort: In The Beginning

In the Beginning
Reincarnations op.16
i. Mary Hynes
ii. Anthony O Daly
iii. The Coolin
To Be Sung On the Water op.42, no.2
Heaven-Haven: A Nun Takes the Veil op.13, no.2
Let Down the Bars, O Death op.8, no.2
The Virgin Martyrs op.8, no.2 op.8, no.1
Agnus Dei op.11
Four Motets
Help Us, O Lord
Thou O Jehovah, Abideth Forever
Have Mercy On Us, O My Lord
Sing Ye Praises To Our King

Scotland's world-class consort sings a program of American contemporaries, Samuel Barber and Aaron Copland. Barber's comfortable use of the traditional and Copland's drive to create an original American music meet in the fact that each composer used word settings of poetry and literature as the basis from which to express their instinctive feel for the human voice. Copland's "In the Beginning" and "Four Motets for a cappella" create a natural audio bracketing of Barbers' "Reincarnations," "The Virgin Martyrs," and the 1936 setting of Emily Dickinson's "Let Down the Bars, O Death." The singing is incomparable!

6537 CD $15.98

Joyful Company Of Singers: Samuel Barber / William Schuman

Twelfth Night
To Be Sung On the Water
i) Mary Hynes
ii) Anthony O'Daly
iii) The Coolin'
Agnus Dei
Sure On This Shining Night
The Monk and His Cat
The Virgin Martyrs
Let Down the Bars, O Death
God's Grandeur
i) Thought
ii) Beautiful Women
iii) To Old Age
iv) Each Of Us
v) To the States
vi) A Farm Picture
vii) Whoever You Are
viii) To You
Mail Order Madrigals:
i) Attention, Ladies!
ii) Superfluous Hair
iii) Sweet Refreshing Sleep
iv) Dr Worden's Pills

A unique all-American program from the amazing Joyful Company of Singers that contains some of that country's most beautiful choral works of our time, including Barber's own choral version of his Adagio. The dozen choral pieces chosen by Peter Broadbent superbly demonstrate Barber's melodic genius. They include the only recording available of his radiantly intense God's Grandeur. Offering stimulating contrast are contemporary William Schuman's Perceptions and the hilariously entertaining Mail-Order Madrigals, the words taken straight out of an 1897 catalogue.

6541 CD $15.98

Robert Shaw Chorale: Samuel Barber/ Bela Bartok/ Vaughn Williams

O Thou Who Art Unchangeable
Lord Jesus Christ, Who Suffered All Life Long
Father In Heaven, Well We Know That It Is Thou
Father In Heaven! Hold Not Our Sins Up Against Us
Agnus Dei
Beat! Beat! Drums!
Dirge For Two Veterans
Angel Of Death
O Man Greatly Beloved

Barber's Prayers of Kierkegaard was commissioned by the Koussevitsky Foundation in 1942, but the composer did not complete the work until January, 1954. It is a setting, in the form of a single-movement cantata, of four prayers by the Danish theologian and philosopher S¿ren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). Robert Shaw gave the American premiere of Bart?k's Cantata Profana at Carnegie Hall in 1952. For this recording, he has used a refined version of the English translation of the text he made for that premiere performance. Vaughan Williams's Dona Nobis Pacem was intended as a warning of the threat of war in Europe in the mid-1930s. The texts are taken from the poetry of Walt Whitman, the Bible, the Latin Mass, and from a speech made in the British House of Commons during the Crimean War in the 1850s by John Bright

6236 CD $15.98

Concordia Choir: Memorial

Adagio for Strings (Samuel Barber)
Memorial (Rene Clausen)

Memorial is a composition for mixed chorus, orchestra and baritone solo, based on subject material which reflets the horrific events of September 11th, 2001, in New York City. Though presented as one continuous movement, the composition follows a program that comprises of four sub-sections - Semptember Morning, The Attack, Prayers and Petitions. Conducted by its composer and director of the Concordia Choir, Rene Clausen, this beautiful piece of music will touch your heart in a way that only music can. The musical texture presents a poignant cascade of emotion that is amplified by the awesome peformance by the Concordia Choir and their Baritone soloist, Peter Halverson (A Concordia College Music Faculty member). On this CD, there is also an exceptional performance of Samuel Barber's instrumental piece, "Adagio for Strings," performed by the Concordia College Orchestra.

7321 CD $15.98

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