Second Essay for Orchestra (Barber)

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Samuel Barber's Second Essay for Orchestra (Op. 17), completed 15 March 1942, is an orchestral work in one movement. It was premiered by the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall 16 April 1942.[1] It lasts around 11 minutes and is dedicated to Robert Horan.

The work was commissioned by Bruno Walter who also conducted the premiere. Some of the thematic ideas were probably conceived years before the Essay's completion.[citation needed] In a letter of 30 November 1942 the composer wrote about it: "Although it has no program, one perhaps hears that it was written in war-time."[this quote needs a citation]

It is a very condensed and concise work developing three themes. Much happens in its relative short duration.[citation needed]

Second Essay for Orchestra is one of Barber's most popular works, probably only trailing Adagio for Strings and his Violin Concerto in terms of number of performances.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Wentzel, Wayne Clifford (2001). Samuel Barber: A Guide to Research at Google Books, page 48. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-8153-3496-6.

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