In ancient Egyptian culture, barbers were highly respected individuals. In order for the aging men and women to cover their grey hair and keep it black the Barber would use Hennah to Color the hair. Priests and men of medicine are the earliest recorded examples of barbers.
In early tribes, a barber was one of the most important members, as it was believed that certain evil spirits were able to enter a person's body through their hair, and that cutting it was a way to drive them out.
Due to their spiritual and religious beliefs, barbers even performed religious ceremonies, such as marriages and baptizing children. A morning visit for men and women to the tonsor became a part of the daily routine, as important as the visit to the public baths, and a young man's first shave tonsura was considered an essential part of his coming of age ceremony.
Barbers in the Middle Ages often served as surgeons and dentists. In addition to haircutting, hairdressing, coloring, and shaving, barbers performed surgery, bloodletting and leeching, fire cupping, enemas, and the extraction of teeth; earning them the name "barber surgeons". The barber pole, featuring red and white spiraling stripes represent bloody bandages and clean bandages wrapped arount the bloodletting pole. After a bloodletting, the barber would tie the bandages to the pole that the patient held on to, and would stick it out side for the bandages to dry.
Consider his lyric record. In two hundred published and unpublished works that Barber wrote during his fifty-plus composing years—from , age 17, until , age 68, three years before his death—roughly half are art songs, choral pieces, song cycles, and opera. Heyman lists eighty-eight stand-alone songs. Almost all these pieces possess soulful, meditative, haunting melodies. They are precisely notated and predictably irregular.
Barber loves to state a simple melody. But right away he alters that simplicity by stretching or shortening the phrase. The melody, thrown off balance, is freed from any boxy cast and our expectation of where it should go. The singing Barber used rubato a good deal. Instead, he notates his wandering or elongating rhythms exactingly.
Whether he uses a modal, tonal, bi-tonal, chromatic, or dissonant harmonic language—at times he builds chords on fourths or else stacks neighboring triads—he does so to bring a lulling comfort or sudden severity to the melodic-rhythmic suppleness I note above. When scoring, his orchestration is often more transparent than rich. But is the sorrow native as well? Is it possible that in the same way Barber was tendered his melodic facility he was also given an acute sensitivity to pain?
Could he have expressed such sadness in music without having lived it? Barber never had a regular job, either to earn extra money or to further his professional career. Unlike most composers, he did nothing but compose: All he wanted was to write music, and he had the financial means and talent to do so unmolested. And yet something in Barber was calling out to be heard. In it, he emphasizes the mournful mood with a chromatic, near atonal melody and a repetitious accompaniment in the strings that feels trapped, even feverish.
Gone is the meter of the verse. In its place is a mini-oratorio, with cold statement and sudden flights of dramatic lyricism. But Barber provides it.
Two climaxes come within a minute of each other: In the summer of , a photograph was taken of Barber and Menotti in St. Wolfgang, Austria, where Barber and Menotti resided in a chalet in which he wrote the Adagio later that year. In it, we see the two side by side in profile, matching smiles and sprightly gazes. Their youthful vigor is irrepressible. Barber is about to pen the saddest music ever written.
Some think that while young he managed his melancholia, that is, kept it hidden, especially as his career got off to such a promising start, with financial awards and premieres, trips to Europe and paid-for villas where he could compose. Others say that his sadness has much to do with hiding his homosexuality: Again, the music provided an out. In Britten and Barber: While he wrote in a late-Romantic style, more Italianate than American, he sounded out of sorts with his rough-hewn brethren who, in the s, styled a new music with nationalistic, atonal, or jazz elements.
Barber did use atonal elements but his method was additive, not structural. I agree with those who knew Barber long term: I find it remarkable that he was given this calling, which, like Orpheus, he could neither escape nor tamp down.
He became more comfortable with his calling, but not until he had written many highly expressive pieces, among them Dover Beach , and not until he adapted to the grievous feelings his musical talent was directing him. He probably knew his melancholy was progressive. He may have felt it would neutralize him unless he gave in.
Thus, he poured himself into composition, writing a lyrical music ever more complicated by his dread of what he would become. It took time for him to discover just how inalienable the trait of melancholy was in him. After receiving more than four hundred nominations, they listed the top five on a website for voting.
It may strike you, as it did me, whether or not these five pieces are comparable. Two have texts that describe the sorrow: Dido pre-grieves her own death, hoping to be remembered, although she is dying because she cannot live without Aeneas; and Holiday, in a dream, believes the man she loves has died and she will soon join him. Evaluated together, these pieces reveal that listeners identify sad music differently. There is no universal decoder. I think the common thread is that they evoke the feelings we have when we lose what we love.
The Purcell aria, from his opera Dido and Aeneas , is tragically forlorn. Dido exclaims that since her lover, Aeneas, has left, she will die rather than live without him. Although we imagine her suicide a joyless occasion, we view her death more in the context of her drama, less our own.
We feel sorry for Dido, not for ourselves. During the funeral procession for President Roosevelt in Washington, a reporter asked a man, weeping with grief, if he had known the president.
The piece is known for its languid melody and its many slow-resolving appoggiaturas, or suspensions, that delay the harmonic resolution. I hear in the movement the fourth of five in the symphony a music that continually rests and revives itself like a waking dream.
The final suspension, the famous four-three resolution of the end, is one of the most emotionally penetrating moments in all music. Little satisfaction rings from the double sforzando F-flat major chord at the heartrending apex of the Adagio nor from the F major chord of the pianissimo ending. The dream of death she describes is haunting, but it also passes, in part, because she is singing it past.
In the song lies the victory. Just the descent, not the coming out. The story is that Holiday is dreaming of ending her life because her man has died. The lyrics are wonderful. Three ideas are cited to explain the genesis of this piece, which Strauss finished the day President Roosevelt died. First, it was written in response to the bombing of the Munich Opera House, whose loss Strauss said was "the greatest catastrophe that ever disturbed my life.
Second, according to the New Grove , it was based, research "has convincingly shown," on a poem by Goethe that argues we cannot know our motivations; in writing the piece, Strauss may have been thinking of a man he once admired and who was horribly self-deceived, Adolph Hitler. And how little those who are called upon to make history have learned from it. Rather, Metamorphosen entangles its heart-stricken woe in innumerable contrapuntal byways of development and variation.
Which is its ruminative charm. I find the work to be gravely somber in parts but not, as The Rough Guide claims, "music of the most trenchant anger.
None of these four shares the revelatory doom of the Adagio. Though we feel other sad music is comparable, put side-by-side, nothing quite compares. On the other hand, the exercise shows that pieces of well-wrought gloom hover around a "general" emotion and owe their singular brilliance to the particular personal shape each composer brings.
The composer taps the musical manifestation of his personality while words help us name it: And still each of us might tweak these adjectival approximations, feeling Strauss, for example, to be more brooding than yearning. As one who listens to music frequently, in concert and on recording, I am never sure whether I the listener am absorbing the musical emotion or I the writer am trying to create its equivalent in language.
I realize the two endeavors have quite different ends and operate in different parts of the brain. My choices of what the Adagio is comparable to are not those preferred by the BBC audience. I find the following pieces just as sorrow-worthy. Making its American record debut in , this CD was a million seller. The canonic dirge in three movements is among the most sustained elegiac pieces ever composed, indebted to the tenets of minimalism and Gregorian chant. Its grief feels, in waves of meditative accretion and dynamic insistence, planetary and post-Holocaust.
- The purpose of this essay is to examine and analyze Katrine Barber's book, "Death of Celilo Falls". In this book, Barber successfully seeks to tell the story of a momentous event in the history of the West, the building of the Dalles Dam in
Samuel Barber's Essay for Orchestra, Op. 12, completed in the first half of , is an orchestral work in one movement. It was given its first performance by Arturo Toscanini with the NBC Symphony Orchestra on November 5.
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