JENNIFER PAULL investigates
Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto Op 14
Samuel Barber's success as one of America's greatest composers came
early, and has been lasting. It has been said that his music contained plenty
of his native American flavouring mixed with a European sensitivity.
From the age of seven, he displayed a prodigious talent for composing
vocal and instrumental music. His aunt and uncle, the contralto Louise Homer
and the composer Sidney Homer, who was Barber's mentor for more than
25 years, encouraged his studies.
Barber first entered the Curtis Institute at the age of 14 shortly after
its formation. In 1928, he met Menotti there, an encounter which led to
a lifelong personal and professional relationship.
A Rome Prize enabled him to spend two years at the American Academy (1935-7)
where he completed the Symphony in One Movement (1936). This
work received immediate performances in Rome, Cleveland and New York. It
opened the Salzburg Festival in 1937; the first American symphonic work
to be included in the Festival's long and varied history.
Barber's international stature was confirmed, however, in 1938 by Toscanini's
patronage. Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra had broadcast several
of Samuel Barber's works, including his tremendously successful Adagio
for Strings (1936). After this, Barber's status as an international
composer was well and truly established. To set this moment in the context
of other points upon which I shall elaborate further, this broadcast was
just one year after the Schumann Violin Concerto had finally received its
première, eighty four years after its composition, thanks to the
persistence of Sir Edward Elgar's friend, Jelly d'Aranyi (1895-1966).
Copyright © 26 April 2002
Jennifer Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland
JENNIFER PAULL'S AMORIS INTERNATIONAL
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