Hyperion Records

Samuel Barber

born: 9 March 1910
died: 23 January 1981
country: USA

Barber intensely played and studied the music of J.S. Bach. He also was an adherent of Brahms, from whom he learned how to compress profound emotions into small modules of highly charged musical expression (Cello Sonata, 1932). In 1933, after reading the poem "Prometheus Unbound" by Percy Bysshe Shelley, Barber composed the tone poem Music for a Scene from Shelley. In 1935, the work was premiered at Carnegie Hall, and this was the first time the composer heard one of his orchestral works performed publicly. Barber’s compositional style has been lauded for its musical logic, sense of architectural design, effortless melodic gift, and direct emotional appeal. These characteristics remained in his music throughout his lifetime.

His compositions would later include characteristics of polytonality (Second Symphony, 1944), atonality (Medea, 1946; Prayers of Kierkegaard, 1954), Twelve-tone technique (Nocturne, 1959 and the Piano Sonata, 1949), and even jazz (Excursions, 1944; A Hand of Bridge, 1959). Barber's composition were never lauded to be pathbreaking, but his compositions were an eclectic blend of the “musical currents hovering about in his time”. John Corigliano succinctly described Barber's style as "an interesting dichotomy of harmonic procedures — an alternation between post-Straussian chromaticism and often diatonic typical American simplicity."

With a background deeply rooted in vocals, Barber's love of poetry and his intimate knowledge and appreciation of the human voice inspired his vocal writing. Barber's most famous vocal compositions, Knoxville: Summer of 1915 (to words by James Agee) and Dover Beach (to words from a Victorian text by Matthew Arnold), were greatly successful and received critical acclaim, making a powerful case for Barber as one of the twentieth century's most accomplished composers for the voice.

Albums
'Barber & Ives: Piano Sonatas' (CDA67469)
Barber & Ives: Piano Sonatas
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67469 
'Barber: Agnus Dei; Bernstein: Chichester Psalms; Copland: In the beginning' (CDA66219)
Barber: Agnus Dei; Bernstein: Chichester Psalms; Copland: In the beginning
Buy by post £10.50 CDA66219 
'Barber: Piano Music' (CDH88016)
Barber: Piano Music
Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDH88016  Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service   Download currently discounted
'Barber: Songs' (CDA67528)
Barber: Songs
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67528 
'Bernstein: Chichester Psalms; Copland: In the beginning; Barber: Agnus Dei' (CDA66219)
Bernstein: Chichester Psalms; Copland: In the beginning; Barber: Agnus Dei
Buy by post £10.50 CDA66219 
'From the Steeples and the Mountains' (CDH55018)
From the Steeples and the Mountains
Buy by post £5.50 CDH55018  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
'Housman: A Shropshire Lad' (CDD22044)
Housman: A Shropshire Lad
Buy by post £8.40 CDD22044  2CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1) Composers of World War I  
'Ives & Barber: Piano Sonatas' (CDA67469)
Ives & Barber: Piano Sonatas
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67469 
'Organ Dreams, Vol. 2' (CDA67146)
Organ Dreams, Vol. 2
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67146 
'Sure on this shining night' (CDA66920)
Sure on this shining night
Buy by post £10.50 CDA66920 
On other labels
'Barber & Copland: In the beginning – other choral works' (CKD117)
Barber & Copland: In the beginning – other choral works
CKD117  Download only  
'Poulenc: Concerto for organ' (CKD178)
Poulenc: Concerto for organ
CKD178  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Walton/Barber: Violin Concertos' (SIGCD238)
Walton/Barber: Violin Concertos
SIGCD238  Download only  
Alphabetical listing of all musical works
A nun takes the veil 'Heaven-haven'  No 1 of Four Songs, Op 13 (Barber)
Adagio for Strings, Op 11 (Barber)
Adagio for Strings, Op 11 (Barber/Strickland)
Agnus Dei (Barber)
Ah! To be all alone in a little cell  First line to The Desire for Hermitage, No 10 of Hermit Songs, Op 29 (Barber)
Anthony O'Daly  No 2 of Reincarnations, Op 16 (Barber)
As down the road she wambled slow  First line to Bessie Bobtail, No 3 of Three Songs, Op 2 (Barber)
At St Patrick's Purgatory  No 1 of Hermit Songs, Op 29 (Barber)
At the cry of the first bird  First line to The Crucifixion, No 5 of Hermit Songs, Op 29 (Barber)
Ballade, Op 46 (Barber)
Beautiful, my delight  First line to To be sung on the water, Op 42 No 2 (Barber)
Bessie Bobtail  No 3 of Three Songs, Op 2 (Barber)
Church Bell at Night  No 2 of Hermit Songs, Op 29 (Barber)
Close my darling both your eyes  First line to Nocturne, No 4 of Four Songs, Op 13 (Barber)
Come with me, under my coat  First line to The coolin', No 3 of Reincarnations, Op 16 (Barber)
Départ  No 5 of Mélodies passagères, Op 27 (Barber)
Dors au fond de l'allée  First line to Tombeau dans un parc, No 3 of Mélodies passagères, Op 27 (Barber)
Dover Beach, Op 3 (Barber)
Four Excursions, Op 20 (Barber)
Four Songs, Op 13 (Barber)
Good people keep their holy day  First line to The Beggar's Song (Barber)
Hermit Songs, Op 29 (Barber)
How foolish the man who does not raise  First line to The Praises of God, No 9 of Hermit Songs, Op 29 (Barber)
I do not know with whom Edan will sleep  First line to Promiscuity, No 7 of Hermit Songs, Op 29 (Barber)
I hear an army  No 3 of Three Songs, Op 10 (Barber)
I will take nothing from my Lord, said she  First line to St Ita's Vision, No 3 of Hermit Songs, Op 29 (Barber)
I would like to have the men of Heaven in my own house  First line to The Heavenly Banquet, No 4 of Hermit Songs, Op 29 (Barber)
In the dark pinewood (Barber)
In the scented bud of the morning – O  First line to The Daisies, No 1 of Three Songs, Op 2 (Barber)
It has broken us, it has crushed us  First line to Sea Snatch, No 6 of Hermit Songs, Op 29 (Barber)
Le clocher chante  No 4 of Mélodies passagères, Op 27 (Barber)
Let down the bars, O death, Op 8 No 2 (Barber)
Mary Hynes  No 1 of Reincarnations, Op 16 (Barber)
Mélodies passagères, Op 27 (Barber)
Mieux qu'une tour profane  First line to Le clocher chante, No 4 of Mélodies passagères, Op 27 (Barber)
Mon amie, il faut que je parte  First line to Départ, No 5 of Mélodies passagères, Op 27 (Barber)
Mutations from Bach (Barber)
Nocturne  No 4 of Four Songs, Op 13 (Barber)
Nocturne 'Homage to John Field', Op 33 (Barber)
Pangur, white Pangur  First line to The Monk and his Cat, No 8 of Hermit Songs, Op 29 (Barber)
Piano Sonata, Op 26 (Barber)
Pity me on my pilgrimage to Loch Derg!  First line to At St Patrick's Purgatory, No 1 of Hermit Songs, Op 29 (Barber)
Promiscuity  No 7 of Hermit Songs, Op 29 (Barber)
Puisque tout passe  No 1 of Mélodies passagères, Op 27 (Barber)
Rain has fallen  No 1 of Three Songs, Op 10 (Barber)
Reincarnations, Op 16 (Barber)
Sea Snatch  No 6 of Hermit Songs, Op 29 (Barber)
She is the sky  First line to Mary Hynes, No 1 of Reincarnations, Op 16 (Barber)
Since your limbs were laid out  First line to Anthony O'Daly, No 2 of Reincarnations, Op 16 (Barber)
Sleep now  No 2 of Three Songs, Op 10 (Barber)
St Ita's Vision  No 3 of Hermit Songs, Op 29 (Barber)
Sure on this shining night  No 3 of Four Songs, Op 13 (Barber)
Sweet little bell, struck on a windy night  First line to Church Bell at Night, No 2 of Hermit Songs, Op 29 (Barber)
The Beggar's Song (Barber)
The coolin'  No 3 of Reincarnations, Op 16 (Barber)
The Crucifixion  No 5 of Hermit Songs, Op 29 (Barber)
The Daisies  No 1 of Three Songs, Op 2 (Barber)
The Desire for Hermitage  No 10 of Hermit Songs, Op 29 (Barber)
The Heavenly Banquet  No 4 of Hermit Songs, Op 29 (Barber)
The Monk and his Cat  No 8 of Hermit Songs, Op 29 (Barber)
The Praises of God  No 9 of Hermit Songs, Op 29 (Barber)
The sea is calm tonight  First line to Dover Beach, Op 3 (Barber)
The virgin martyrs, Op 8 No 1 (Barber)
Therefore come they, the crowding maidens  First line to The virgin martyrs, Op 8 No 1 (Barber)
There's nae lark (Barber)
Three Songs, Op 10 (Barber)
Three Songs, Op 2 (Barber)
To be sung on the water, Op 42 No 2 (Barber)
Toccata festiva, Op 36 (Barber)
Tombeau dans un parc  No 3 of Mélodies passagères, Op 27 (Barber)
Un cygne  No 2 of Mélodies passagères, Op 27 (Barber)
Violin Concerto, Op 14 (Barber)
With rue my heart is laden  No 2 of Three Songs, Op 2 (Barber)
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