As far from West Chester as it is in my power to be
This chapter describes Barber’s first few trips to Europe, with a fellow student, cellist David Freed, where his romance for European culture began and greatly influenced his work. He sought the most brilliant European artists, musicians, and music professors during that time, immersing himself in their works and teachings. These trips left him with a greater passion for composition as he returned to the Curtis Institute, where he proceeded to write with an utmost intensity. But his writing at this time was not without the usual peaks and troughs, as is the case with any artist. There were compositions wherein Barber doubted his talent. However, his perseverance and determination earned him his first prize in music—the Joseph Bearns Prize for a violin sonata that was lost for many years. It was also at this time that the Serenade of 1928 was born, one of the earliest orchestra pieces that launched Barber’s career. The promotion of his work by Mary Curtis Bok, the founder of the Curtis Institute of Music, was substantial.
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