The Modern Age

twentieth century

(Classical Music Map)


I. History of Classical Music  (by John Stanley)
The great composers and their masterworks in MP3 format
Albeniz Borodin Donizetti Hindemith Prokofiev Schutz
Albinoni Brahms Dowland Janacek Puccini Scriabin
Allegri Britten Dvorak Kodaly Purcell Sibelius
Arne Bruckner Falla Leoncavallo Rachmaninov Smetana
Auber Busoni Field Liszt Rameau Strauss J.S.
Bach Byrd Gabrieli Lully Ravel Strauss R.
Barber Carissimi Gershwin Mahler Respighi Stravinsky
Bartok Charpentier Gesualdo Mendelssohn Rimsky-Korsakov Tallis
Beethoven Cherubini Glinka Meyerbeer Rossini Tchaikovsky
Bellini Chopin Gluck Monteverdi Saint-Saens Telemann
Bernstein Clementi Gounod Mozart Scarlatti Verdi
Berwald Corelli Grieg Mussorgsky Schoenberg Victoria
Berlioz Couperin Handel Pachelbel Shostakovich Villa-Lobos
Bizet Debussy Haydn Paganini Schubert Vivaldi
Boccherini Delibes Hildegard Palestrina Schumann Wagner
Orff  "Carmina Burana"
II. History of Jazz


Samuel Barber



The American Samuel Barber continued to fly the flag of musical Romanticism in a century when it was unfashionable. The melodic appeal and unbridled emotional content of his finest works won acclaim with concert audiences. But critics were not as comfortable with him, reacting negatively to the more ambitious works, particularly the opera Antony and Cleopatra. Born in Pennsylvania, Barber's early musical influences were his aunt and uncle, Louise and Sidney Homer: she was a famous contralto, he a composer of songs. Samuel's affinity with the voice showed itself not only in a large output of vocal music but also in his fine baritone voice. From 1924 to 1932 he studied at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, taking lessons in both voice and composition. For a while he even contemplated a career as a singer, and made a famous and moving recording of one of his earliest successes, the intensely sombre setting of Matthew Arnold's poem Dover Beach for voice and string quartet, written in 1931.

After his graduation Barber won a succession of prizes and awards which enabled him to travel in Europe, where he forged important links with Italy. His travelling companion, and lifelong friend, was fellow student and composer, Gian Carlo Menotti. Works such as his First symphony (1936) were immediately performed in Rome as well as New York, and in 1938 the great Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini premiered what was to become Barber's popular classic, the Adagio for strings. This lyrical elegy was arranged from the central movement of his First string quartet, but the additional richness and intensity of the orchestral string sound brought it such huge success that the composer was induced to make a third arrangement of it in 1967, as a choral "Agnus Dei."

Apart from a brief spell in the United States Air Force from 1943 to 1945, Barber settled down to a steady and often spectacular compositional career, including such works as the appealing Violin concerto (1939-40) and the Piano sonata (1949), the latter commissioned by the legendary pianist Vladimir Horowitz. The air)' delicacy of its scherzo and audacious complexity of its final fugue were clearly inspired by his skill. In the 1950s Barber produced the Hermit songs - settings of medieval Irish monastic texts, sacred and profane — and in 1957 the opera Vanessa, to a libretto by Menotti. But his instinctive talent now seemed suffused with effort, and despite the success of the assertive Piano concerto in 1962, with its self-conscious adoption of a more contemporary idiom, the failure of Antony and Cleopatra cast a shadow over Barber's later years.

Perhaps the best summary of Barber's approach came from the composer himself in 1971: "It is said that I have no style at all but that doesn't matter. I just go on doing, as they say, my thing. I believe this takes a certain courage."


Samuel Barber



Samuel Barber (1910-1981)



MIT Chamber Chorus
Mary Hynes
Nocturne for piano "Homage to John Field" Op. 33
Tres DesPeaux


Pablo Picasso


















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