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SAMUEL BARBER Samuel Barbers 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 doesnt 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 Stravinskys and the orchestration is usually quite experimental His music sounds full and rich simply mean that the experiment succeeds Although no prodigy Barber nevertheless made his mark early Op1 Serenade for string quartet later orchestrated for strings he wrote that piece while
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