Benjamin Britten & Samuel Barber. (Their Lives and Their Music). Amadeus. Softcover with CD. 180 pages. Amadeus Press #1574671081. Published by Amadeus Press (HL.331663).
ISBN 1574671081. 6x9 inches.
The second title in the Amadeus Press Parallel Lives series, this volume examines the lives and work of two giants of 20th century music. Both composers influenced countless others, and their works are performed often in today's concert and opera houses. Felsenfeld gives us a penetrating look into the lives of these two extraordinary men, helping us get to know them and therefore better understand their music. In clear, concise language he examines their major works, helping us to understand their genius and power, which is illustrated by the accompanying full-length CD.
The author points out parallel developments in Britten and Barber's lives and careers. Both came of age in a time of war, a time of political and artistic unrest and upheaval, and both were celebrities in their own time. Both wrote primarily – and most successfully – for the voice, but neither became ghettoized as a strictly vocal composer, and both were possessed of a flawless compositional technique, with a fluency that bordered on wizardry. Finally, both were prolific, involved musical presences on the world stage.
The accompanying full-length CD from Naxos Records includes six complete pieces.