Violin Concerto Op.14
Samuel Barber


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The first of 2 entries for Barber in the Ultimate Hall of Fame. This first appeared in the 1998 Hall of Fame and has remained there ever since, peaking at number 73 in 2002.

Given the great success of the Adagio for strings, Samuel Barber could have been forgiven for resting on his musical laurels in the late 1930s. But the American composer was having none of it: he set about working on his only Violin Concerto in 1939, just a year after the Adagio's premiere.

Initially, the composer's reasons for cracking on with a new work were primarily financial: he'd been commissioned to write a violin concerto by one Samuel Fels, father to one of Barber's classmates at the curtis institute of Music and a Philadelphia industrialist who gave Barber continued feedback on what he did and didn't like. At first, the work was too simplistic. Barber's solution? Add a fiendishly challenging finale. Fels' response? It had become too complex. Back and forth they went, the composer duly making changes against his wishes presumably because he knew that a worthwhile pay cheque awaited him at the end of his endeavours.