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Samuel Barber: The Composer and His Music Paperback – Mar 1 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (March 1 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195090586
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195090581
  • Product Dimensions: 3.6 x 14.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 953 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,022,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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First Sentence
Although there are many legendary stories about composers, especially if they were child prodigies, this Barber legend is supported by material evidence, for the note itself has been preserved. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
I read this book with the same excitement that I would a... thriller. It is exciting to find out so much about a manwhose music is among America's best! Barbara Heyman has captured thespirit of Samuel Barber's life and compiled it into a readableorganized format. Be sure to read all of the footnotes/endnotes.They contain some of the most wonderful tidbits of information.Authoritative writing!
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Format: Paperback
As a lifelong student of Barber and his music, I was thrilled at the depth and scope of this work. It contains many musical examples and, most tellingly, reveals what music Barber loved and was studying when he composed various works. And it doesn't pull any punches in its treatment of Barber's tendencies toward depression and alcoholism. I spoke to Barbara Heyman a few years ago and she said she was working on a companion volume but had no firm idea when it might be published. We can only hope it will be soon!
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Format: Paperback
This is the authoritative biography of Barber. Heyman is a first rate scholar and has published an incredibly comprehensive work. It covers every detail of his life. It also corrects several inaccuracies of the previous coveted Nathan Broder publication. (Completion dates of several works that have been researched through his letters.)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
As close to a "definitive" study as we're ever likely to see April 30 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As a lifelong student of Barber and his music, I was thrilled at the depth and scope of this work. It contains many musical examples and, most tellingly, reveals what music Barber loved and was studying when he composed various works. And it doesn't pull any punches in its treatment of Barber's tendencies toward depression and alcoholism. I spoke to Barbara Heyman a few years ago and she said she was working on a companion volume but had no firm idea when it might be published. We can only hope it will be soon!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Well Done June 6 2006
By Scott D. Scheule - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Well, I thought the book was a respectable mix of biographical information and analysis, not too much of one or the other. It is organized (roughly) by opus number, meaning one can find virtually all the information about a specific work condensed in a particular section--with the overall outline being chronological. This structuring is easy and accessible.

Theory hogs, like me, may want a few more examples--but if so, we're just being greedy. The author's analyses of the works are well-done, cursory without being useless. She neither fawns over her subject, nor butchers him. Perhaps a bit more biographical information would be nice--Barber's love life is always touched upon at tangents, never explained. But maybe such information is simply not to be found.

The esoteric nature of the subject precludes me from recommending it generally--but for anyone with the slightest interest in Mr. Barber, this is certainly one of the best resources out there.

And what do we say of Samuel? Reactionary, fuddy-duddy? Snobbish European turning his back on his American home, or a man who simply recognizes good music when he hears it? Or, like Brahms, a fusion of past and present who only appears conservative when compared with the silly extremists? I lean towards the latter.

Barber enjoyed Brahms, and there's a similarity stapling the two together here. Both took a rich harmonic and modern language, Brahms with his soup of pivot chords and chromatic thirds, Barber with his polychords, changing meters, and quartal implications, reinvigorating ideas and forms that some describe as depleted. And both were, in some sense, fearless. Now of course neither was immune to public opinion--the failure of Anthony and Cleopatra cracked off a bit of Barber's heart--but nevertheless, we find two men who by and large did not care to defend their artistic choices. Barber wrote music of lyrical melodic line when the flavor de jure was prickly textures or avant-garde nonsense.

I have no opinion on whether or not that was the right decision; but I bestow the highest respect on Barber's intense drive for perfection. 71 years he lived, and left behind a paucity--but a paucity of perfection. The concertos are jewels! The songs are staples (or should be)! Barber forced and tempered his creations: many works were revised after the first performance--and, which is to be respected all the more--usually made shorter by it. Excess notes deleted, and tight statements left behind.

This book honors that aspect of him well, and I'm glad to have gotten to know him through it.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A great biography! March 27 2001
By Thomas C. Nagy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I read this book with the same excitement that I would a... thriller. It is exciting to find out so much about a manwhose music is among America's best! Barbara Heyman has captured thespirit of Samuel Barber's life and compiled it into a readableorganized format. Be sure to read all of the footnotes/endnotes.They contain some of the most wonderful tidbits of information.Authoritative writing!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The authoritative biography on Barber April 26 1999
By Jonathan Girard (jgirard@mail.hartford.edu) - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is the authoritative biography of Barber. Heyman is a first rate scholar and has published an incredibly comprehensive work. It covers every detail of his life. It also corrects several inaccuracies of the previous coveted Nathan Broder publication. (Completion dates of several works that have been researched through his letters.)
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
FANTASTIC book!!! Oct. 17 2005
By Jennifer L. Barrett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'm currently researching Barber for my Masters Thesis. This is the best book available currently on Barber. The variety of information and sources she offers is excellent. In addition to the biographical information, Heyman presents each of his pieces in reference to certain time periods of his life and goes on to discuss these pieces in depth. An incredibly valuable resource for me and anyone interested in Samuel Barber.

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