ISO BRISELLI, SAMUEL BARBER, and The VIOLIN CONCERTO, OP.14 - Facts and Fiction.

FALSE CD LINER NOTES

It is regrettable that today, even with the benefit of Barber's correspondence (accessible on this website), some annotators persist in including the Broder misinformation in their CD liner/program notes. Repeating Broder's false story is counterproductive, and only reinforces a destructive myth best forgotten.

On the positive side: Although some CD liner notes published since 2010 contain incorrect information, after being contacted, the offending record companies agreed to revise their notes to reflect the truth. The only exception is eONE with their 2014 recording featuring violinist Ann Akiko Myers. The annotator, composer John Corigliano, refuses to amend his notes which state:

"Samuel Barber (1910-1981) one of our great American composers, never liked his Violin Concerto. He felt it was two pieces instead of one----a first and second movement that held together, and a wild and frenetic last movement that didn't belong with the others. This is because he wrote the work as a commission for a young violinist, and the violinist and his sponsor complained that it was too easy---there was not enough virtuosic material in it. Sam, no stranger to revenge, wrote a fiery last movement that the young violinist could not play. Thus while he wrote the work in 1939, the official premiere was given by Albert Spalding in February of 1941. Wikipedia offers the full story in detail, and is worth reading."

Barber's words and actions contradict Corigliano's claim that Barber "never liked his violin concerto." When Briselli asked Barber to recompose the third movement to make it more substantial, Barber in his correspondence stated: "I could not destroy a movement in which I have complete confidence, out of artistic sincerity to myself" and said, he "has done his best in submitting a work for which he makes absolutely no apology." Also, Barber continued to tinker with the concerto over the next nine years until making his final edits. These are not words or actions of someone who "never liked his violin concerto."

Further, it was Briselli, not Barber who felt that the concerto "...was two pieces instead of one---a first and second movement that held together, and a wild and frenetic last movement that didn't belong with the others." Corigliano has it backwards.

His statement: "...the violinist and his sponsor complained that it was too easy---there was not enough virtuosic material in it" is wrong again. It was Briselli's coach, Albert Meiff, who harbored those complaints as verified by the Meiff correspondence also accessible on this website.

It is also irresponsible for Corigliano to state that "Sam, no stranger to revenge, wrote a fiery last movement that the young violinist could not play." Neither Barber nor Briselli ever claimed that "...the young violinist could not play [it]." That was Nathan Broder's fiction.

Finally, although Corigliano wisely refers his readers to Wikipedia for "...the full story in detail," Wikipedia contradicts everything Corigliano has just stated! Despite the evidence, sadly and irresponsibly, Corigliano refuses to revise his notes accordingly.


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