Samuel Barber’s early cantata for voices and organ, Christmas Eve, is a previously unstudied area of Barber’s childhood output. Utilizing the composer’s manuscripts from his time as a student of Sidney Homer, the score has been reconstructed. The reconstruction has revealed Barber’s considerable ability to intuit and assimilate the styles of contemporary American sacred choral works of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, while capturing the essence of dramatic musical gesture. It is a work that demonstrates a creative sophistication far beyond the early years of a young composer. By examining this work we are able to observe the artistic energies of a future master composer, celebrated for his works in the vocal canon, as well as consider afresh the composer-performer-audience relationship of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


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pp. 375-397
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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