LANSDOWNE

SYMPHONY

ORCHESTRA

Samuel Barber School for Scandal Program Notes

Aged  21,  West  Chester-born  Samuel  Barber  was  completing  his  studies  at  the  Curtis  Institute  of  Music  (right  near  Rittenhouse  Square  in  Philadelphia)  when  he  composed  the  School  for  Scandal  overture,  his  first  piece  for  large  orchestra.  He  would  go  on  to  a  long  and  successful  composing  career,  writing  often  lush,  and  mostly  tonal,  music.  Other  great  works  include  the  Violin  Concerto,  Knoxville:  Summer  of  1915,  two  symphonies,  several  operas  (including  Antony  and  Cleopatra,  for  the  Metropolitan  Opera’s  opening  at  Lincoln  Center)  and  the  Adagio  for  Strings,  one  of  the  most  well  known  pieces  of  all  time.  A  lifelong  Pennsylvanian  at  heart  (he  wrote  about  his  unhappiness  with  New  York),  he  is  buried  in  Oakland  Cemetery  in  West  Chester.  The  School  for  Scandal  overture  is  an  energetic,  fast-paced  piece,  inspired  by  the  18th century  comedy  by  Irish/British  playwright,  politician  and  poet  (and  clearly,  alliterative  careerist)  Richard  Brinsley  Sheridan  (1751-1816).  Sheridan  was  in  parliament  for  32  years,  but  also  owned  the  Theater  Royal  in  Drury  Lane.  His  four-act  comedy’s  central  character  is  Lady  Sneerwell,  whose  salons  are  rumor-mill  of  scandals  and  gossip.  The  School  for  Scandal’s  plot,  of  mistaken  identities,  hijinks,  gambling,  and  Shakespearian  parody,  ends  happily  ever  after.