Samuel Barber Essay

632 words - 3 pages

Samuel Barber


Samuel Barber's music, wonderfully crafted and built on romantic structures and sensibilities, is at once lyrical, rhythmically complex and also harmonically rich.
Samuel Barber born, March 9, 1910 in West Chester, Pennsylvania. He wrote his first piece at age seven and attempted his first opera at age ten. At the age of fourteen he entered the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he studied voice, piano and composition. Later he studied conducting with Fritz Reiner. At Curtis Barber met Gian Carlo Menotti with whom he would form a lifelong personal and professional relationship. Menotti supplied liberetti from Barbers Operas, "Vanessa", which Barber had won a Pulitzer Prize for. Menotti also wrote the liberetti for "A Hand of Bridge", Barbers opera, and also "Antony and Cleopatra", which was commissioned to open the new Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center in 1966.
Barber is often looked at as a controversial composer. His American roots often confuse critics. He founded no school; he stuck to no one style. As a public figure he seemed aloof from the various critical fights of American music: tonal vs. atonal, Stravinsky vs. Schoenburg, and old guard vs. modern. Barber seemed to just write music, and in doing so became controversial, someone to be attacked or defended.
Barber distinguished himself as a melodist. Almost everything he has written has at least one gorgeous tune or memorable theme. His melodic emphasis led certain critics to label him as "neo-romantic", a word that doesn't mean all that much. Almost nothing he wrote could have been produced in the romantic era. The harmonies are too complex and sometimes extremely dissonant. The approach to form is a modern as Igor Stravinsky's, and the orchestration is usually quite experimental. His music sounds full and rich simply mean that the experiment succeeds. Although no...

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