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Samuel Barber Remembered

Samuel Barber Remembered: A Centenary Tribute

Edited by Peter Dickinson
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 214
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  • Book Info
    Samuel Barber Remembered
    Book Description:

    Samuel Barber is one of America's most popular classical composers. His widely beloved works include "Adagio for Strings" and Knoxville: Summer of 1915 . The main source for Samuel Barber Remembered: A Centenary Tribute is a panoply of vivid and eminently readable interviews by Peter Dickinson for a BBC Radio 3 documentary in 1981. The interviewees include Barber's friends, fellow composers, and performers, notably Gian Carlo Menotti, Aaron Copland, William Schuman, Virgil Thomson, soprano Leontyne Price, and pianist John Browning. The book also includes three of the very few interviews extant with Barber himself. Dickinson contributes substantial chapters on Barber's early life and on Barber's reception in England. The book has a foreword by the distinguished composer and admirer of Barber, John Corigliano. Peter Dickinson, British composer and pianist, has written or edited numerous books about twentieth-century music, including CageTalk: Dialogues with and about John Cage (University of Rochester Press) and three books published by Boydell Press: The Music of Lennox Berkeley; Copland Connotations; and Lord Berners: Composer, Writer, Painter.

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-758-2
    Subjects: Music, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    John Corigliano

    It is impossible to evaluate the true worth of composers when they are alive because their works are not heard as pure music but rather as political statements by their creators. Today, when they are still alive, self-consciously modern and would-be progressive composers are often elevated to great heights in our cultural conversation regardless of the actual quality of their musical imaginations. In the past, this was not the case. As a result, composers more talented than radical, who are interested in the new only insofar as it relates to the good, are pigeonholed into the “traditional” or “conservative” categories....

  5. About the 1981 BBC Interviews
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Arthur Johnson
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Peter Dickinson
  7. Part One: Peter Dickinson on Samuel Barber

    • Chapter One The Formative Years
      (pp. 3-15)
      Peter Dickinson

      Samuel Osborne Barber II—the full name the composer later gave up—was born on March 9, 1910, at 35 South High Street, West Chester, near Philadelphia. His paternal grandfather, the first Samuel O. Barber, was a manufacturer of shipping tags who had moved to West Chester in 1888 with the Denny Tag Company. He set up his own highly successful firm, the Keystone Tag Company, in 1901, which the family ran until 1941. The composer’s maternal grandfather was a Presbyterian minister, Dr. William Trimble Beatty, who founded Shady Side Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh. He was also instrumental in founding...

    • Chapter Two Reception in England
      (pp. 16-30)
      Peter Dickinson

      The prolific American writer David Ewen, writing for a British public in theMusical Timesin 1939, found Roy Harris “the most significant” among American composers but continued: “Samuel Barber promises to become the most important discovery since Harris.”¹ Ewen heard Barber’s First Symphony at the Salzburg Festival in 1937 where it was followed by an ovation. He went on prophetically in terms rarely used by any British writer then or later: “Samuel Barber’s facility in self-expression, his extraordinary gift in formulating his copious ideas into a coherent and integrated pattern … his capacity for writing a line of melody,...

  8. Part Two: Samuel Barber

    • Chapter Three Samuel Barber Interviewed by James Fassett (1949)
      (pp. 33-37)
      James Fassett and Samuel Barber

      CBS Radio intermission interview with James Fassett. CBS Symphony Orchestra concert conducted by Bernard Herrmann, June 19, 1949.Knoxville: Summer of 1915—radio premiere with Eileen Farrell.

      James Fassett (1927–2009) was born in Leominster, Massachusetts, and earned degrees from Harvard and Dartmouth. He started his career as an announcer with WBZ in Boston and as a critic forThe Boston Globe. He joined CBS Radio in 1936 and became a commentator and intermission host for the New York Philharmonic programs. From 1942 through 1963 he was director of the CBS Music Department. He was a keen ornithologist, and his...

    • Chapter Four Samuel Barber Interviewed by Robert Sherman (1978)
      (pp. 38-44)
      Robert Sherman and Samuel Barber

      WQXR Great Artists Series, September 30, 1978, before the premiere of Barber’sThird Essay for Orchestra, op. 47, by the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta.

      Robert Sherman (1932–) was born in New York City and is a widely known radio presenter. He has hosted the McGraw-Hill Companies’ Young Artists Showcase on WQXR for over thirty years, andWoody’s Children, which reflects his interest in folk music, reached its forty-first anniversary in 2010. He has taught the Business of Music course at Juilliard since 1992. His mother was the pianist Nadia Reisenberg and his aunt, Clara Rockmore, was the...

    • Chapter Five Samuel Barber Interviewed by Allan Kozinn (1979)
      (pp. 45-52)
      Allan Kozinn and Samuel Barber

      Barber’s interview with Allan Kozinn (1954–) took place at the end of December 1979. Because of reports of his illness, there was some question of whether he would go through with the interview, since a few weeks earlier he had canceled most of his appointments. However, pianist-composer Philip Ramey convinced Barber not to break this appointment, and the result was the last interview he ever gave. Originally, his meeting with Kozinn was to have taken place at Barber’s Fifth Avenue apartment in New York, but, because of construction there to try and shield his working area from distracting traffic...

  9. Part Three: Friends

    • Chapter Six Gian Carlo Menotti: Interview with Peter Dickinson, Yester House, Gifford, Scotland, April 6, 1981
      (pp. 55-72)
      Peter Dickinson and Gian Carlo Menotti

      Gian Carlo Menotti (1911–2007) was one of the most successful opera composers of the mid-twentieth century. He had an inborn sense of the theater, inheriting the tradition of Puccini, with an intuitive feel for character and drama as a fusion of music and theater to his own texts—almost all in English. Menotti remained Italian to the core, even though he spent most of his life based in America before, improbably, buying a country mansion in Scotland. The relationship between Menotti and Barber was crucial to the development of both composers—their work is at the core of mid-twentieth-century...

    • Chapter Seven Charles Turner: Interview with Peter Dickinson, New York City, May 13, 1981
      (pp. 73-90)
      Peter Dickinson, Charles Turner and AJ

      Charles Turner (1928–2003), composer and teacher based in New York, was introduced to Barber by Gore Vidal in 1950 and soon became part of the entourage at Capricorn. Barber, Menotti, and Turner, along with the conductor Thomas Schippers, shared summer retreats in Maine and Italy.¹ Turner was also a violinist who performed the Violin Concerto under Barber’s baton in Germany in 1951, to the composer’s great satisfaction.Souvenirswas dedicated to Turner, and Barber entrusted the score of his final work, Canzonetta for Oboe and Strings, to him to orchestrate.

      I met Turner again in New York in 1990,...

  10. Part Four: Composers

    • Chapter Eight Aaron Copland: Interview with Peter Dickinson, Rock Hill, Peekskill, NY, May 11, 1981
      (pp. 93-99)
      Aaron Copland, Peter Dickinson and AJ

      Aaron Copland (1900–1990) needs no introduction as a leading figure in American music from the late 1920s until his death. Along with Gershwin and Bernstein, he has exemplified American music on the international scene for over half a century.¹ He lacked Gershwin’s spectacular appeal based on popular song and musical theater, and he could not compete with Bernstein’s extravagant public career as conductor, composer, and pianist. But Copland, who took up conducting after Koussevitsky’s death in 1951, became a much-loved figure on the podium, with an international following. He wrote for films and reached a wide audience through television....

    • Chapter Nine William Schuman: Interview with Peter Dickinson, 888 Park Avenue, New York City, May 14, 1981
      (pp. 100-107)
      William Schuman and Peter Dickinson

      William Schuman (1910–92) made an influential contribution to American musical life as composer, teacher, and administrator. He was born in New York City and began serious study of music relatively late. He once explained: “It was not a matter of my being interested in baseball in my youth. Itwasmy youth.”¹ That essentially American sport gave him the subject of his only opera,The Mighty Casey, but he was energetically involved in various types of popular music and jazz at a time when his composer contemporaries were studying abroad. Schuman wrote songs with Edward B. Marks Jr. and...

    • Chapter Ten Virgil Thomson: Interview with Peter Dickinson, Chelsea Hotel, New York City, May 12, 1981
      (pp. 108-120)
      Virgil Thomson, Peter Dickinson and AJ

      Virgil Thomson (1896–1989) was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and died in New York City. His upbringing was centered on the Baptist Church and its musical heritage. He was an organist and, after army training, entered Harvard in 1919. There he began a lifetime’s devotion to French music, accompanied the Harvard Glee Club, encountered the music of Erik Satie and the writings of Gertrude Stein—he said they changed his life¹—and began to compose. He spent a year in Paris studying with Nadia Boulanger; then, back at Harvard in 1923, he gave the American premiere of Satie’s Socrate....

  11. Part Five: Performers

    • Chapter Eleven Leontyne Price: Interview with Peter Dickinson, New York City, May 14, 1981
      (pp. 123-131)
      Leontyne Price, Peter Dickinson and AJ

      Leontyne Price, one of the leading international sopranos of her generation, was born in Laurel, Mississippi, in 1927. After studying at Juilliard, she attracted attention in 1952 when Virgil Thomson chose her for the revival of his operaFour Saints in Three Actson Broadway. The following year she starred as Bess in Gershwin’sPorgy and Bessat the Ziegfield Theater, and a two-year world tour followed. Her future stature as a great Verdi performer became clear when she sang Aida at San Francisco, Vienna, Covent Garden, and La Scala. Her Metropolitan Opera debut was in 1961 as Leonora in...

    • Chapter Twelve John Browning: Interview with Peter Dickinson, New York City, May 13, 1981
      (pp. 132-141)
      John Browning, Peter Dickinson and AJ

      John Browning (1933–2003) was a prominent American pianist who made his first appearance at age ten in Denver, Colorado, where he was born. After study in Los Angeles, he went to the Juilliard School of Music as a pupil of Rosina Lhévinne.¹ He won several awards and made his debut with the New York Philharmonic under Dmitri Mitropoulos in 1956—Barber was at that concert.² Browning was subsequently in demand internationally and toured the USSR in 1965.

      He was mostly involved with the standard repertoire, from Mozart to Rachmaninov, but he also recorded the Prokofiev concertos and made a...

    • Chapter Thirteen Robert White: Interview with Arthur Johnson, London, February 1981
      (pp. 142-148)
      Robert White and Arthur Johnson

      Robert White (1936–), tenor and teacher, was born in New York City. He studied with Nadia Boulanger at Fontainebleau and was a soloist in Renaissance repertoire with Noah Greenberg’s New York Pro Musica. He went on to sing with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic and other major orchestras, as well as with the Monte Carlo Opera. He has performed and recorded with Yo-Yo Ma, Samuel Sanders, Placido Domingo, William Bolcom, Brian Zeger, and Graham Johnson in music ranging from Beethoven to Richard Rodgers; premiered works by composers including Menotti, Hindemith (under the composer’s direction), John Corigliano, Lowell...

  12. Part Six: Publishers and Critics

    • Chapter Fourteen H. Wiley Hitchcock: Interview with Peter Dickinson, 1192 Park Avenue, New York City, May 10, 1981
      (pp. 151-156)
      Peter Dickinson, H. Wiley Hitchcock and AJ

      H. Wiley Hitchcock (1923–2007) was a pioneer in the field of American music studies. HisMusic in the United States: A Historical Introduction(1969) was widely influential and has gone through four editions. It broke new ground by considering all kinds of American music, both serious and popular, for which he invented the terms “cultivated” and “vernacular.” Hitchcock’s name will always be associated with Charles Ives—he and Vivian Perlis were responsible for the comprehensive Charles Ives Centennial Festival Conference held in New York and New Haven in 1974. An Ives Celebration was the book that arose from the...

    • Chapter Fifteen Hans W. Heinsheimer: Interview with Peter Dickinson, New York City, May 13, 1981
      (pp. 157-163)
      Hans W. Heinsheimer and Peter Dickinson

      Hans W. Heinsheimer (1900–1993) was born in Karlsruhe, Germany, and came to the United States in 1938, where he consolidated his reputation as one of the most influential music publishers of the twentieth century. He studied law but gave it up in 1923 to work in music publishing for Universal Edition in Vienna. There he introduced Alban Berg to Louis Krasner, thus paving the way for Berg’s Violin Concerto. When Heinsheimer was working for Boosey and Hawkes in New York, he generously found an ingenious way of supporting the destitute Béla Bartók in his final years in the city....

    • Chapter Sixteen Edward P. Murphy: Interview with Peter Dickinson, New York City, May 12, 1981
      (pp. 164-167)
      Edward P. Murphy and Peter Dickinson

      Edward P. Murphy (1939–) is the former president and chief executive officer of the National Music Publishers Association, Inc., representing more than nine hundred American music publishers and the global protection of their music copyrights. He joined NMPA as executive vice president in 1983, was elected president of the Harry Fox Agency—its licensing subsidiary representing more than twenty-seven thousand music publishers—the following year, and became president and chief executive officer of NMPA and the Harry Fox Agency in 1985. Previously, he served as president of G. Schirmer, Inc., the firm with which he was associated for most...

  13. Postscript 2005: Orlando Cole: Interview with Peter Dickinson, Philadelphia, October 13, 2005
    (pp. 168-178)
    Orlando Cole, Peter Dickinson, TW and UK

    Orlando Cole was born in Philadelphia in 1908 and celebrated his hundredth birthday in August 2008. His father was a violinist who played in the Philadelphia Orchestra. At seven he started the piano and at twelve took up percussion. When he got to West Philadelphia High School there were no vacancies for these instruments in the orchestra, so—distinctly late—he took up the cello.

    His teacher at the Curtis Institute was the English cellist and influential teacher Felix Salmond (1888–1952), who was head of the cello department from 1925 to 1942. Salmond had played in the premieres of...

  14. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 179-184)
  15. General Index
    (pp. 185-194)
  16. Index of Works by Samuel Barber
    (pp. 195-196)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 197-199)