Saturday, March 9, 2013
Composer Samuel Barber was born on March 9, 1910, in West Chester, Pennsylvania, into a family that included musical artists. He became deeply interested in music at a young age and studied the piano at age 6. At 14 he entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he met Gian Carlo Menotti, who became a major composer of operas and also Barber’s life partner. In his late teen years Barber started to compose seriously. Major works include the highly expressive “Adagio for Strings” (1936), inspired by Virgil’s Georgics, which has earned him a permanent place in the concert repertory; “Knoxville: Summer of 1915” (1947), for soprano and orchestra, set to prose text by James Agee; and the lyrical, rhapsodic Violin Concerto (1939). The 1938 world premiere recording of the “Adagio,” conducted by Arturo Toscanini, was selected for permanent preservation by the U.S. Library of Congress in 2005.