Academic journal article ARSC Journal

Samuel Barber: A Thematic Catalogue of the Complete Works

Academic journal article ARSC Journal

Samuel Barber: A Thematic Catalogue of the Complete Works

Article excerpt

Samuel Barber: A Thematic Catalogue of the Complete Works. By Barbara B. Heyman. NY: Oxford University Press, 2012. xxxiv + 562pp (hardcover). Illustrations, Bibliography, Discography, Index. ISBN 978-0-19-974464-0. Price: $99

Samuel Barber, who would have been 100 in 2010, remained throughout his life resolutely in favor of the idea of tonality, albeit imaginatively reconceived, in new music. The number of recent composers who have thought likewise make him all the more relevant now. Barbara Heyman, widely acknowledged as the most important scholar of his life and music, has planned three projects to celebrate Barber's centennial: the present volume, a revision of her landmark biography to reflect the research she has conducted since its original 1992 publication, and a selection of his correspondence.

Heyman's extensive research makes this thematic catalogue unusually useful and comprehensive. Each entry includes an identifying H number (the works are ordered chronologically) and thematic incipit; notes on scoring, origin (inspiration, commission, or other events associated with the composition), first performance, editions, duration, sources (which also includes editorial comments and transcriptions of text written on the sources by Barber or others); a discography, arranged chronologically; and a final section listing so-far unidentified manuscripts. A number of appendices include two lists of the works by genre and by title; a register of poets; listing of songs by first line of text; a collated discography arranged by title in alphabetical order; and a complete listing of incipits. She also provides a clear description of the book's organization and helpful lists of abbreviations and library sigla. The index interleaves titles of Barber's works along with the other entries; a separate index for the compositions would have been a welcome improvement.

The separate entries themselves furnish much useful information--not only for researchers, but for performers or conductors as well. Particularly noteworthy in this regard are the various comments or notes included in the sections on origin and sources. …

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