American composer Samuel Barber (1910-1981) is best known for a single work, the celebrated Adagio for Strings. The Adagio, in fact, is an arrangement of the slow movement of Barber’s String Quartet, which was composed in 1936. Barber had no interest in 20th-century modernist aesthetics, preferring to write in a lyrical, mildly chromatic vein. American idioms such as jazz and the ‘prairie’ style of Aaron Copland also held little attraction for him. That said, he ventures reasonably close to the latter in his work for soprano and orchestra, Knoxville: Summer of 1915. Given his conservative bent, Barber’s output includes symphonies, concertos and sonatas. He also composed operas, including Antony and Cleopatra, which was written for the opening of New York’s Metropolitan Opera in its new home at Lincoln Centre in 1966. Barber’s partner was fellow composer Gian Carlo Menotti.
© Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra