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Sunday, 26 February 2012

Samuel Barber

Samuel Barber was born on March 9, 1910 in West Chester, Pennsylvania, the son of Marguerite McLeod (née Beatty) and physician Samuel Le Roy Barber.

Childhood home of Samuel Barber in West Chester, Pennsylvania

At the age of 10 Samuel Barber (1910-1981) wrote a short opera entitled The Rose.

At the age of 12, Barber was holding down a part-time $100-a-month organist’s post at Westminster Church in his home town of West Chester, Pennsylvania.

At 14 he became one of the first pupils at the new Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

Samuel Barber, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1944

Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings was premiered the NBC Symphony Orchestra under the direction of the conductor Arturo Toscanini in 1938. It was an immediate hit and remains his best-known score.

When Barber's third opera Antony and Cleopatra officially opened the New Metropolitan Opera House in September 1966, the critical mauling the work received – mostly to do with Franco Zeffirelli’s over elaborate staging rather than the music itself – virtually finished him. Barber spent many years in isolation after its harsh rejection and suffererd from depression, as well as being beset by alcoholism.

Barber died of cancer in 1981 in New York City at the age of 70. He was buried in Oaklands Cemetery in his hometown of West Chester, Pennsylvania.

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