Tomorrow marks 100 years since the birth of American composer Samuel Barber (who died in 1981). There’s a brief overview of his life and work on the National Public Radio website, where you can hear Barber in a radio interview, as well as hear samples of some of his less-well-known music. But there’s little of substance on offer.
For example, the NPR bio doesn’t mention how creatively blocked Barber became after the difficult birth and reception of Antony and Cleopatra at the Met in 1966.
The Van Cliburn Piano Competition commissioned Barber to write a test piece for its 1977 contest. Accounts say it was a year of torture for the composer. The resulting Op. 46 Ballade was to be his final piano composition.
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