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SEYMOUR BARAB

SEYMOUR BARAB

Works

Reviews


Mr. Barab was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1921, and began his professional career as a church organist at the age of thirteen. "I was preparing for a career as a pianist when the conductor of the high school orchestra persuaded me to study the cello. I later became a cellist in the orchestra and after graduation auditioned for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. I was accepted and have since appeared with principal orchestras throughout the country such as the Cleveland, San Francisco and Philadelphia."

Mr. Barab's interest in contemporary music led to a close association with American composers, whose music he began to perform while he was still in high school. Before leaving Chicago, he became a founder of the New Music Quartet; and then in New York City of the Composer's Quartet, the resident quartet of Columbia University, whose primary purpose was to promote contemporary music. On the other end of the spectrum, he played the viola da gamba and helped form the New York Pro Musica, one of the first contemporary ensembles to reintroduce baroque and renaissance music. He has been a member of the faculties of Rutgers University, Black Mountain College and the New England Conservatory of Music, although he is mainly self-taught in composition.

Following military service in World War II, he took advantage of the G.I. Bill to spend a year in Paris, where he explored his own talents for musical composition. In this one year alone, he produced over two hundred art songs and other works. Vocal music has in fact become Barab's favorite means of musical expression. "It is less abstract," he observes. "The words of a poem immediately suggest music to me."

Barab's proclivity for musical theatre has made his operas consistently performed, especially his comic one-acts and those for young audiences. According to Central Opera Service, during the 88-89 season, he was the most performed composer of opera in America. His fellow composer, Miriam Gideon, has called him "the Rossini of our time." His Little Red Riding Hood was the first American opera performed in China in its post-isolationist period. His highly praised full- length Civil War opera Philip Marshall, which uses Dostoyevsky's The Idiot as its point of departure, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

The Toy Shop, commissioned by the New York City Opera, was performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and in 1998, scenes from the Pied Piper of Hamlin were also performed there, where he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Opera Association.

Seymour's Cosmos Cantata, was set to a text by the novelist Kurt Vonnegut and commissioned and performed by the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Richard Aldon Clark. Of their collaboration, Kurt Vonnegut says: "Barab's music is full of magic. He proved to an atheist that God exists. What an honor to have worked with him."

For more information, please visit www.seymourbarab.com.

2009-08



Works

Operas - Full Length | Operas - One-Act | Voice




Operas - Full Length


Cinderella A Fairy Tale Opera in 1 Act -- 120'
2 Soprano, Soprano or Mezzo-Soprano, Tenor, 6 Baritone Chorus (Soldiers, Children, Royal Entourage, Skeletons, Townspeople [boys or girls], Pages); 1 1 2 1 - 2 1 1 0; Perc. Str. or Piano
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Additional Information: The familiar story, but adapted from the Grimm Brothers rather than Disney.
Reviews


Sleeping Beauty Opera in 2 Acts -- 120'
2 Sopranos, Soprano or Mezzo-Soprano, Tenor, 6 Baritones, Chorus (Soldiers, Children, Royal Entourage, Skeletons, Townspeople [Boys or Girls], Pages); Piano or 1 1 2 1 - 2 1 1 0; Perc. Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Additional Information: The familiar story.



Operas - One-Act


American Punchlines Opera in 1 Act -- 60'
Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Tenor, Baritone; Piano
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Additional Information: A selection of dramatized jokes.


Androcles and the Lion Opera in 1 Act (1996) -- 50'
Mezzo-Soprano, Tenor, Baritone, Narrator, Stage Manager (mime); Piano
Available from the Presser Rental Library


Betrothal of Becky Brown, The Opera in 1 Act -- 30'
Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Tenor, 2 Baritone, Bass; Chorus; a cappella, with string quartet doubling vocal lines, or with chamber orchestra (composer will orchestrate to order)
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Additional Information: A child is born to the notorious Nasty Brown. Much to his chagrin, the child is not only a girl -- Becky -- but one who will grow up to be repelled by dishonesty.


Code of the West, The Opera in 1 Act
Soprano/Mezzo-Soprano, Tenor, 6 Baritone/Bass; 2 spoken roles; Chorus; Piano
Available from the Presser Rental Library


Jewish Humor from Oy to Vey Opera in 1 Act -- 60'
Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Tenor, Baritone; Piano
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Additional Information: A selection of Jewish jokes, dramatized.


Let's Not Talk About Lenny Any More Opera in 1 Act -- 40'
Soprano, Baritone; Piano (orchestration available)
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Additional Information: He, shy and unaggressive, has deceived her into believing he is a knight in shining armor. She, a liberated woman, has deceived him into believing she is an old-fashioned girl. Of course, the truth will out, but since both are so adept at deception, they could prove to be an ideal match after all.


Mating Habits of the Radical Chic Opera in 1 Act
Mezzo-Soprano, Baritone; Piano
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Additional Information: This blasé, intellectual couple stimulate each other romantically by playing some outrageous games.


Pied Piper of Hamelin, The Opera in 1 Act -- 50'
Soprano, (2) Mezzo-Soprano (roles may be doubled), Baritone, Children (Rats, Children, Policeman); Piano
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Additional Information: The familiar story.


Reba Opera in 1 Act
5 Soprano, 4 Mezzo-Soprano, 2 Tenor, 3 Baritone, Bass; Piano
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Additional Information: Reba's mother is a servant in the home of a white family. A funeral is being held for the young daughter of the house, who until her illness was Reba's playmate. Reba envies the attention being given the dead child.


Say Cheese Opera in 1 Act -- 40'
Soprano, Tenor, Baritone, Bass; Piano
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Additional Information: Jimmy, a photographer rejected by the art world and his girlfriend, Kitty, prepare to end it all. A lot of dangerous stuff happens when Feldman and Derek enter with drawn guns, but Kitty saves the day -- no one dies.


Scenes in Wonderland Opera in 1 Act -- 40'
2 Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Tenor, Baritone, Narrator
Available from the Presser Rental Library



Voice


The Rivals Four Songs for High Voice and Piano (1971)
Published: #411-41041
Additional Information: Texts by James Stephens

Movements:
I. The Daisies
II. The Rose in the Wind
III. The Hawk
IV. The Rivals



Reviews


Cinderella A Fairy Tale Opera in 1 Act

"…exciting to read and equally pleasant to hear.
…always fun for the adults as well as children."

-Barbara Lockard-Zimmerman, Opera for Youth Journal




Page last updated August 20, 2009