• Samuel Barber
  • Music for Violin and Piano

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Programme Note

Allegro agitato

Canzonetta (Transcribed by Richard Walters)

Hermit Songs Suite (Transcribed by Richard Walters)
   St. Ita’s Vision
   The Monk and His Cat
   The Desire for Hermitage

Canzone (Transcribed by the composer)

Suite from Souvenirs (Transcribed by Joshua Parman)
   Pas de deux

Three Song Transcriptions (Transcribed by Richard Walters)
   The Secrets of Old
   Sure on this Shining Night

Gypsy Dance

Adagio (Transcribed by Jerru Lanning)

Allegro agitato
The third movement from Sonata for Violin and Piano in F minor, the sonata was composed during 1928, begun in the winter, with work continuing in Europe in the summer. Barber completed the three movement sonata on November 8, 1928. A program dated December 10, 1928 from the Curtis Institute of Music is record of the first performance, played by Gama Gilbert, violin, and the composer at the piano. Gama Gilbert was a classmate of Barber’s at Curtis and remained a close friend and champion of the composer’s music, and was the catalyst some years later for the commission that led to the violin concerto. Gilbert died at a young age in 1940.

“I like to give my best themes to oboe,” said Sam Barber. This Canzonetta for oboe and strings was meant to be the slow movement of an oboe concerto commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, but soon after Sam began it in 1978, his doctor told him he had cancer. The other two movements were never written- nor was anything else- before he died in 1981. In this Canzonetta we find the form of Sam’s life imitating that of his art by making a simple final statement and farewell.

Hermist Songs Suite
Hermit Songs, a cycle of ten songs for voice and piano, was composed from November 1952 to February 1953. It is one of the most significant and beloved of American song cycles. These transcriptions for violin were created for this collection, and first recorded for the companion CD. The violin parts were edited by Frank Almond. The piano parts are unaltered from Barber's original compositions.

St. Ita's Vision
The song was composed on January 9, 1953. The eighth century words, originally in Gaelic, are attributed to Saint Ita, translated into English by Chester Kallman. "Ita" is pronoiunced "Eeta."

The Monk and His Cat
The song was composed on February 16, 1953, and dedicated to Isabelle Vengerova, a gift for her seventy-sixth birthday. Vengerova was Barber's piano teacher at Curtis.

The Desire for Hermitage
This song, the last of The Hermitage cycle, was composed on January 15, 1953. The words are anonymous eighth or ninth century Gaelic, translated by Sean O'Faolain and altered by the composer.

This piece began as Elegy for flute and piano, composed in 1959. Barber retitled Elegy as Canzone in 1961, and made a version for violin and piano. Barber recomposed it, adding further material and orchestration, for the second movement of the Piano Concerto.

Suite from Souvenirs
Souvenirs, a six movement suite, was originally composed in 1952 for piano, four hands. Barber wrote it to play with his friend Charles Turner, who had encouraged the composer to write something similar in spirit to two-piano arrangements of lighter music they had heard together at the Blue Angel Club. Barber made the solo piano version in 1952. The transcriptions for violin and piano were created for this collection.

Waltz, Pas de deux, and Hesitation-Tango
Originally art songs, these transcriptions for violin and piano were created for this collection. The piano parts are unaltered from Barber's original compositions; the violin parts were edited by Frank Almond.

The original song title is "With rue my heart is laden," a setting of a text by A.E. Housman, published in A Shropshire Lad, 1896. It was composed when Barber was seventeen, on June 30, 1927. This is one of the three songs that were Barber's first published opus, published in 1936.

The Secrets of Old
Composition of this song was completed in September, 1938, a setting of a text by William Butler Yeats from a set of poems, A Man Young and Old. It was included in Four Songs, Op. 13, published in 1941.

Sure on this shining night
Composition of the song was completed in September, 1938, a setting of a text by James Agee, from the 1934 collection Permit Me Voyage. It was included in Four Songs, Op. 13, published in 1941. One of the most famous of Barber's art songs, the composer later created a voice and orchestra version, as well as a choral arrangement.

Gypsy Dance
This composition appears here in a first edition, previously unpublished. The companion CD also marks the first recording released of this music. The manuscript is dated October 17, 1922. Written ast age twelve, it was Barber's first instrumental work. The music originated in an unfinished opera, The Rose Tree, composed at age ten to a libretto by the Barber family's Irish cook.

The famous "Adagio," one of the most recorded pieces of twentieth century music, originated as the second movement of the String Quartet in B minor, Op. 11. Composition of this movement was completed in St. Wolfgang, Austria, on September 19, 1936. In a letter to a friend Barber wrote, "I have just finished the slow movement of my quartet today, and it is a knockout!"