Samuel Barber

Of That so Sweet Imprisonment
Strings in the Earth and Air
In the Dark Pinewood
Three Songs, Op. 10
Solitary Hotel
Now I have Fed and Eaten up the Rose
Fadograph of a Yestern Scene

Samuel Barber (1910-1981)
A great twentieth century Romantic, Samuel Barber was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania to musical parents, and would slowly evolve his own unique musical voice as he travelled the world and surrounded himself with poets, musicians, and art enthusiasts. A compositional perfectionist and a consummate tunesmith, Barber had the unique talent of aborbing every style the twentieth century had to offer, seamlessly integrating them into his work and always retaining control of his lyrical vision. He could craft melodies of haunting beauty without pandering to cheap sentimentality; he could create pieces of disturbing dislocation without turning the reins over to chaos; and his music could sound ironical and witty without resorting to cynicism or gimmickry. Unfortunately his popularity waned after the sixties, and he died believing that his star had fallen.
Today Barber is best known for his Adagio for Strings, one of the most achingly bittersweet pieces of music composed durng this century. But he has also produced some of very fine songs, almost all of which were adaptations of works by Yeats, Graves, Davies, Rilke, Roethke, and of course, James Joyce. All in all, Joyce provided the material for nine songs and one lovely instrumental.

Chamber Music Songs -- These six songs are settings of poems from Chamber Music.

Nuvoletta -- A beautiful song with lyrics adapted from Finnegans Wake.

Solitary Hotel -- A song with lyrics adapted from Ulysses.

Now I Have Eaten Up the Rose -- This song is based on a James Joyce translation of a German poem by Gottfried Keller.

Fadograph of a Yestern Scene -- A short instrumental inspired from a line in Finnegans Wake.

Links/CDs/Sound Samples

You can find out more about Samuel Barber at the ClassicalNet "Barber" Page.

Some more information may be obtained on the Schirmer Barber page.

PBS has a Barber Profile as part of their I Hear America Singing site.

You may listen to sound samples and/or purchase Samuel Barber CDs online from and below:


Barber: Secrets of the Old --The Complete Songs (2 CD set)
Samuel Barber / Audio CD / Released 1994
(Complete -- all nine songs!)

Barber: Songs / Roberta Alexander
Samuel Barber(Composer), et al / Audio CD / Released 1992
(Three Songs, op. 10; "Nuvoletta")

Leontyne Price sings Barber: Knoxville, etc / Barber
Samuel Barber(Composer), et al / Audio CD / Released 1994
(Three Songs, op. 10, No. 2 -- "Sleep Now," "Nuvoletta")


Barber: Medea, Third Essay, Fadograph / Andrew Schenck
Samuel Barber(Composer), et al / Audio CD / Released 1990

Capricorn - The Samuel Barber Collection
Samuel Barber(Composer), et al / Audio CD / Released 1996

--A. Ruch
14 December 2000
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