Piano Concerto (Barber)

Piano Concerto (Barber)

Piano Concerto (Barber)

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The Piano Concerto, Op. 38, by Samuel Barber was commissioned by the music publishing company G. Schirmer in honor of the hundredth anniversary of their founding. The work premièred on 24 September 1962, in the opening festivities of Philharmonic Hall, now Avery Fisher Hall, the first hall built at Lincoln Center, with John Browning as soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Erich Leinsdorf.


Barber began work on the concerto in March 1960. John Browning was the intended soloist from the outset and the concerto was written with his specific keyboard technique in mind. The first two movements were completed before the end of 1960 but the last movement was not completed until 15 days before the world première performance. According to Browning (in the liner notes for his 1991 RCA Victor performance of the Concerto with the St. Louis Symphony), the initial version of the piano part of the third movement was unplayable at performance tempo; Barber resisted reworking the piano part until Vladimir Horowitz reviewed it and also deemed it unplayable at full tempo. The work was met with great critical acclaim with Barber winning his second Pulitzer Prize in 1963 and the Music Critics Circle Award in 1964.

It was recorded by Browning with the Cleveland Orchestra conducted by George Szell in 1964. Other recordings include: 1976 by the MIT Symphony Orchestra for Vox/Turnabout; 1991 by John Browning with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leonard......
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