Cello Concerto (Barber)

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Samuel Barber's Cello Concerto in A minor (Op. 22), completed on 22 November 1945, was the second of his three concertos (the first being his Violin Concerto and the third his Piano Concerto). Barber was commissioned to write his cello concerto for Raya Garbousova, an expatriate Russian cellist, by Serge Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Koussevitzky later said that he thought the work would be to the 20th century what Brahms' violin concerto was to the 19th century. While composing, Barber asked Garbousova to play her entire repertoire for him so that he could understand her performing style. The concerto is said to have fit her personality perfectly. Garbousova performed it with the Boston Symphony Orchestra on 5 April 1946. The concerto won Barber the New York Music Critics' Circle Award in 1947. Garbousava refined her interpretation of the concerto until her retirement.

The work has gradually crept into the repertoire of the cello community, but it has remained on the fringes, largely because of its extreme technical demands. It has recently been championed by a number of young soloists.

The work has three movements:

  1. Allegro moderato
  2. Andante sostenuto
  3. Molto allegro e appassionato

The concerto is scored for 2 flutes, oboe, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 3 trumpets, timpani, snare drum, and strings.