In this episode, Dave and Andrew explore the fourth opera to win the Pulitzer Prize in the 1950s, Samuel Barber's Vanessa. In the mid-20th century United States, Samuel Barber was one of the most performed American composers, known especially for his beautiful vocal music that closely mirrored European models. But with the Pulitzer traditionally awarding works that are more "American" in sound, does Vanessa represent a departure from convention for Barber or the Pulitzer board?

If you'd like more information about Samuel Barber or Vanessa we recommend:

  1. This fascinating background article in Pasatiempo by James M. Keller
  2. Howard Pollack's article "Samuel Barber, Jean Sibelius, and the Making of an American Romantic" in The Musical Quarterly, vol. 84, vo. 2 (Summer, 2000): 175-205
  3. Barbara B. Heyman's biography Samuel Barber: The Composer and His Music, 2nd edition (Oxford University Press, 2020) 
  4. A synopsis of the opera