The Philadelphia Inquirer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 28, 2010 · Page C02
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The Philadelphia Inquirer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania · Page C02

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C2 A www.phill3r.com THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER Sunday, March 28, 2010 Brain Food Nord linger Continued from Cl glorious realm of their own. George Gershwin was a genius with a foot in each world. I think we can say this, without too much hesitation: Barber is as good a classical composer as America has yet had. He studied at the Curtis Institute where else? and went on to write a great variety of music. For the piano, he wrote a formidable sonata. Vladimir Horowitz, for one, recorded it. Ignat Solzhenitsyn, the pianist and conductor who is now concluding his tenure with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, offers a bold proposition: Barber's sonata is the greatest piano sonata of the 20th century. For orchestra, he wrote the School for Scandal overture, a delightful and shrewd piece. And he took the slow movement of his string quartet and transcribed it for string orchestra. That gave us the Adagio for Strings. It is Barber's most popular work, and one of the most popular works by anybody. Are you sick of it? I always say, if a work is hackneyed, it's not its fault; it's ours. Barber was versatile, but his heart seemed to lie with the voice, and with vocal music. He himself was a singer one of the few composers in history to be that. Usually, they are pianists or violinists. (And Hector Berlioz, interesting man, played the guitar!) Barber's aunt was Louise Homer, an important contralto of the day. His uncle, her husband, was Sidney Homer, a composer of art songs. Barber wrote two operas, ED HUE Staff Photographe On Barber's 100th birthday, West Chester Historical Society held a musical celebration that, clearly, wasn't totally musical. Pop Quiz A chorus of "Happy B-day" to Samuel Barber Today's quiz joins in marking of this month's 100th anniversary of West Chester composer Samuel Barber's birth. 1. After attempting his first opera at age 10, Barber entered the Curtis Institute of Music at this age: a. 12. b. 14. c. 16. d. 18. 2. True or false: Barber wrote the alma mater song for West Chester High School. 3. One of Barber's best-known works is his "Adagio for Strings," which was featured in Platoon and other movies. Name the film that did not include "Adagio": a. The Elephant Man. b. Lorenzo's Oil. c. The Deer Hunter. d. El Norte. 4. True of false: "Adagio for Strings" was broadcast over the radio when President Franklin D. Roosevelt's death was announced. 5. The "Adagio" continues to inspire musicians, including this artist, who sampled the work on the 1997 album No Way Out: a. Madonna. b. Michael Jackson. c. Mariah Carey. d. Sean Combs. 6. Many of Barber's works were influenced by literature, including the 1936 Chamber Music song cycle based on poems by this Irish author: a. James Joyce. b. William Butler Yeats. c. Seamus Heaney. CURTIS INSTITUTE ARCHIVES Barber and Curtis institute founder Mary Louise Curtis Bok in November 1947. the first of which was Vanessa, a moving score and a moving piece of lyric theater. It includes the short, potent mezzo aria "Why must the winter come so soon?" His second opera was Antony and Cleopatra, written for the opening of New York's Lincoln Center in 1966. The premiere was shaky, in part because the production had technical problems. Critics were ungenerous. But the opera contains much excellent music, some of which Leontyne Price, the soprano, took around the world. Dover Beach is a work for baritone and string quartet. Knoxville: Summer of 1915 is a work for soprano and orchestra. The first is haunting and affecting, just like the Matthew Arnold poem it sets; the second is purely, almost definitively, American. And then there are art songs songs for voice and piano which are models of their kind. Singers in every generation have been drawn to them, and audiences have never failed to respond. d. Samuel Beckett. 7. Barber's opera based on this classic tale a rare critical disaster for the composer was commissioned for the opening of the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center in 1966: a. Julius Caesar. b. Antony and Cleopatra. c. Titus Andronicus. d. Othello. 8. The Lovers Op. 43, based on the erotic poetry of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, was commissioned by this Philadelphia institution for the city's orchestra: a. Philadelphia Orchestra. b. Philadelphia Savings Fund Society. c. Core States Bank. West Chester's own Samuel Barber, born March 9, 1910. mow Barber composed against the grain of his time, which was modernist. He could not turn his back on melody, harmony, and the other essential elements of music. His fellow composers, and many critics, scorned him as "neo-Romantic" and worse. He was charged with writing "pretty" music, not intellectually challenging enough, too ear-friendly. Elliott Carter, the high priest of modernism, turned 100 in December 2008. I interviewed him on that occasion. Asked whether he could respect Barber and other "neoRomantics," he said, "Well, some of us felt that the kind of music Sam wrote had already been done, only done better than anybody could do it now. Therefore there was no reason to do it now." With a grin, Carter added, "What Sam did was deplorable," but the music, nevertheless, "is rather good." That's putting it mildly. As for whose music will last longer Barber's or Carter's I advise you not to bet the ranch on Carter's, brilliant as that composer is. Barber was a dedicated craftsman, a hard worker. He told his friend Lee Hoiby, the Wisconsin-born composer, "When you learn a Beethoven sonata, you must play the notes on the page. Anything else is wrong. Writing music is the same. You have to find the right notes." Besides craftsmanship, Barber had inspiration, a priceless ingredient. Melodies and other ideas seemed to come to him as flowers come in spring. At the top of this column, I called Barber "great." Great like Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven? No, of course not. But if we are more liberal in our attribution of greatness yes, indeed. His music has enriched lives and will live forever. That is pretty good for a West Chester kid, and for anybody else. E-mail Jay Nord linger at jnordlingernationalreview.com. For information about the yearlong celebration of Barber's music, visit www.chestercohistorical.or gifeatured.php d. Girard Bank. 9. Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915, a work for soprano and orchestra, was based on the work of this Pulitzer Prize-winning author: a. Tennessee Williams. b. William Faulkner. c. James Agee. d. Robert Penn Warren. 10. Name the street where you can find a historical marker in front of Barber's boyhood home in West Chester: a. Church. b. Sharpies& c. Ashbridge. d. Darlington. Answers: C6. AAN Z..; Vt. - f,:;::::!-- ------ --?-7"-;::1 , , 7......, e-- ----------- i ,--- :-.L..- c-,-4 : i , -------:f4,:. 2,---, . ,. ------,--::-. , - - -Q 1- - - --' ,--.---- ------1 - ,---- .--, - T - , ..--.--.:..-.::. '. p7-.....,.....1-7' :------ - ......, L-.:7-7,1"..--e,':;-------....---.:....2- ....:- 1----- ---,-.1,---- e--::- - -. ,---,,---- . - ---- -. 2.-. :;.-,7 2 ,.., ::.... .. Idittt4it, ',V '1.---,---'--- .. ----' jr( ---,---. --- - - - - ---- ,,4--------- '"r"'"-------- - - 7': ezr:-- - - 1., , - - r-1:: N - NIP -...----F ---- ' f ----- .:, --- --:...-------::, ,'---- --1.--,'!-: ,- ------ John Clifford Pemberton fought in the Mexican War. He was also the uncle of the inventor of Coca-Cola. Memory Stream Dipping into Philadelphia's illustrated past The popular soft drink Coca-Cola, invented by Atlanta chemist John Stith Pemberton, was originally called Pemberton's French Wine Coca. In 1886, when Atlanta introduced prohibition, Pemberton switched out wine for sugar syrup, and the product was marketed as Coca-Cola in the late 1880s. Although John Stith was born and raised in Georgia, 4 the Pemberton family had its roots in Philadelphia. In 1680, Phineas Pem(Gtt:.. berton and his family set forth on the ship Submission from Liverpool, England, to Maryland. The ;11;,,,' family then traveled to Pennsylvania and - settled on a large swath of land in Bucks County. Phineas Pemberton became a member of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania and the state's Assembly, as well as serving as William The coat of arms c Penn's chief adminis- PhinA2s PAmhArti The coat of arms of the family of Phineas Pemberton. ' r,4:4 .. ... ..,......4,. ...,.....,..,...,., ....,,...,..:. ..r ,,, ili? -Olio:. A '7 ..ii OS, ,le ..,, 4 NO. k . 64;0 II r N AY ..00.. ,- dt,A.... Yiq e- , "--ons- , P 1P0.11,r 3.1 4.4.111141110-611104,;1, ...Li -,,r,,s..,coiL,r.,,, , v,..:7,,.- ,.....-.......,!, 0, , .,-,,,E.9.-,.,...,-, -,...vil,,,,,,,,,,A4 , --NIA04,- ---1' lb-fa& ve -osimegcli -...iilve:11', ---mie.r . -viotat.' -.41116.-"k ip,,..big ---011W- '- 4 11 A il I iv " 1 I 1 I L -1'... ; . a, . . . , . 7 -OM. --ftlit A -oldiel,o.VOI --4.ft1,-.... b,.- A - -..APINA. -..11111.-.A1.1 - ' -.WPM, ,....-..01. , -1111S11110 -7---.0111111b-'s J trator in Bucks County. The Pembertons were very active in the Society of Friends, and Phineas Pemberton's son Israel (John Stith's great-great-greatgrandfather) was named president of the legislature and presiding officer of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends. Other notable members of the family include James Pemberton, a merchant and one of the , founders of the Pennsylvania HospiOgi tal, and John Clifford Pemberton ,10.10. (John Stith's uncle), who fought on the frontier and in the Mexican War. Though he was raised in Philadel- phia, in 1861 John T Clifford resigned his commission and of- fered his services to IA, the Confederate Army. Mind Menu Where to feed your intellect J6Indicates wheelchair-accessible. g Indicates listening devices. Events are free unless otherwise indicated. Symposiums & seminars Travels in North Korea. Walter Keats describes and visually presents this reclusive country, which he has visited 20 times. Presented by , the Geographical Society at the Academy of Natural - Sciences, 19th 8, Pkwy; 610-649-5220. wwwgeographicalsoci ety.org. Tickets $15, students $7.50. 2 and 7:30 p.m. Wed. 0 Rethinking the War on Drugs: Disparate Impacts of the Current Drug Policy in Phila. Temple Law's annual .1,- public-interest forum co--4 features D.A. Seth Williams. Temple Law ,',4 School, Moot Court Room, Klein Hall, 1718 N. Broad St; Picaso's "Seated 215-204-8979. Watch," 1932 oil http:www.temple.edu ilawispiniforum.html. 4 p.m. Thu. Lectures & literature Early Bird Gets the Scholarship. Speaker is Helena Kossof-Sullivan of the Hold On to Education Foundation. Willingboro Public Library, 220 Willingboro Pkwy, Willingboro; Picaso's "Seated Woman With Wrist Watch," 1932 oil on canvas. - e: - Content and images provided by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. For more stories, visit www.hsp.org. 609-877-6668. 2:30 p.m. Sun. Picasso: His Women and His Art. Lecturer is Fred Dixon, art collector and Barnes Foundation docent. Widener University's Exton campus, 825 Springdale Dr., Whiteland Business Park; 484-713-0088. 12:10-1:10 p.m. Mon. Authors , Robert Coover, "Noir: A Novel." Free Library of Philadelphia. Central Library (Montgomery .. ', Auditorium), 1901 Vine St; CD215-567-4341. - www.freelibrary.org. 7:30 p.m. Thu. 4 1 , Screenings Playing for Change: Peace Through Music (documentary) Bucks ... ,-,-. -. , County Community College, 275 Swamp ' Rd., Gateway ek, Auditorium, 1,''.! Newtown; , i., 215-968-8242. www.bucks.edu.11 a.m. Tue. )man With Wrist canvas. The Robe. 1953 Bible epic starring Richard Burton. Bryn Mawr Film Institute, 824 W. Lancaster Ave; 610-527-4008. www.BrynMawrFilm.org. General admission $9.50, seniors and students $6.75, BMFI members $5. For a complete calendar of events, go to "What's Happening,' at http:www.philly.comphillycalendar 14-.-- 40-----'1 . e , -, .-..., ....,....31.31SLIVIA,,,,p, - - - -,,:- 4,t-lartit24WA,---. '',.., gtitshiR z v ur 6., : ode 1, .1 t , "., ,------..---'-'4;';174101:41M.4Ari;:6:;, -ZZ,Zint.17..:-.7, 4::4.'Lb,..:...v t '. ..:49.11f0:140.440104VORk$$'k4.1,t4 .k.,;:41Zd7":;:,':d.e. d ' 6'14t4111;10..PAkte4Ote'01244tit. 4'.4t', ..4.;1.r1g.i. Z. 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