Barber, Samuel (Osmond)
- Barbara B. Heyman
(b West Chester, PA, March 9, 1910; d New York, Jan 23, 1981). American composer. One of the most honoured and most frequently performed American composers in Europe and the Americas during the mid-20th century, Barber pursued, throughout his career, a path marked by a vocally inspired lyricism and a commitment to the tonal language and many of the forms of late 19th-century music. Almost all of his published works – including at least one composition in nearly every genre – entered the repertory soon after he wrote them and many continue to be widely performed today.
From the age of seven, he displayed a prodigious talent for composing both vocal and instrumental music, writing an operetta, The Rose Tree, when he was ten to a libretto by the family's Irish cook. His musical studies were encouraged by his aunt and uncle – the contralto Louise Homer and the composer Sidney Homer, who, as his nephew's mentor for more than 25 years, profoundly influenced Barber's aesthetic principles. Early piano lessons were with William Hatton Green. At 14 he entered the newly founded Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied the piano with George Boyle and then with Vengerova, singing with Gogorza and composition with Scalero. Also at the institute in ...