Born: 1910, West Chester, Pennsylvania
Died: 1981, New York
"I have always believed that I need a circumference of silence. As to what happens when I compose, I really haven't the faintest idea."
Born into a musical family, Barber began composing as a boy, even trying an opera at age 10. At 14, he was one of the first students at the new Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. Avoiding most modernist trends, he developed a lyrical idiom of refreshed melody and harmony. The Adagio for Strings, arranged from his String Quartet, has become one of the most beloved pieces from the 20th century. He won his first Pulitzer Prize for his opera Vanessa, premiered by the Metropolitan Opera in 1958; his second Pulitzer was for his Piano Concerto of 1962.
Adagio for Strings (1936)
Los Angeles Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein (DG)
Piano Concerto (1962)
John Browning, St. Louis Symphony, Leonard Slatkin (BMG)