1997 32¢ Samuel Barber
Conductors and Composers
Issue Date: September 12, 1997
City: Cincinnati, OH
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
Samuel Barber (1910-1981) started piano lessons at age six – within a year he was composing. Even as a youth he showed an inclination toward vocal music, as evidenced by his short opera, The Rose Tree, which he performed with the assistance of his sister Sara.
Barber established himself as a serious composer while a student at the Curtiss Institute, which he attended for eight years. His works from this period, including the Serenade for string quartet, Dover Beach, and the Cello Sonata contain the essential elements of his style – successful text-setting and use of tone and orchestrations, as well as long lyrical lines. In 1935 Barber met the legendary conductor Arturo Toscanini. Three years later Toscanini conducted Barber’s First Essay for orchestra and the Adagio for Strings. The latter remains his most popular work.
Barber’s music was often recognized with awards. He won the 1958 Pulitzer Prize for his four-act opera, Vanessa, and a second Pulitzer in 1962 for his Piano Concerto No. 1. His popular instrumental pieces include The School for Scandal, Capricorn Concerto, and the Concerto for Cello and Orchestra. And Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and Prayers for Kierkegaard are among his popular vocal compositions.