Barber, Samuel, 1910–81, American composer, b. West Chester, Pa. Barber studied at the Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia. His music is lyrical and generally tonal; his later works are more chromatic and polytonal with striking contrapuntal elements. Among his outstanding works are a setting of Matthew Arnold's
Dover Beachfor voice and string quartet (1931); an overture to The School for Scandal (1931); Adagio for Strings (1936); two symphonies (1936, 1944); Capricorn Concerto for flute, oboe, and trumpet (1944) and a piano concerto (1962; Pulitzer Prize); a ballet, Medea (1946); Knoxville: Summer of 1915, for soprano and orchestra (1947), derived from a segment of James Agee's novel A Death in the Family; a modern oratorio, Prayers of Kierkegaard (1954); and two operas, Vanessa (1957; Pulitzer Prize) and Antony and Cleopatra (1966), commissioned to open the new Metropolitan Opera House.
See biography by N. Broder (1954).
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