Samuel Barber Dover Beach Op3 (1931) Dover Beach was written when Barber was a twenty one year old student at the  Curtis Institute and represents the first of his extended pieces for voice and ensemble.  Barber, a singer with a fine baritone voice, was in some demand as a recitalist, a singularly unusual role for a composer and he made the first recording of Dover Beach.  Barber had a rather melancholy nature and preferred solitary interests to the usual combative sports popular in his day.  In this way he might seem to have been at odds with the competitive nature of the society in which he lived.  Setting the poem Dover Beach seems an apt reflection of his personality. Dover Beach is a poem by Matthew Arnold that is deeply pessimistic. Arnold's view is that material progress does not protect us from conflict. The moonlit world of the viewer on the Dover Cliffs is beautiful but unreal, just a dream. The true world is one of darkness "where ignorant armies clash by night." The rich imagery of the poem enabled Barber to reveal the poem's nuances through descriptive musical details e.g. rocking figures in the string parts represent shifting light on the sea, the restrained section, “And Sophocles….” reflecting a more reasoned state of mind. The work gradually builds up through shorter and repeated phrases to an impassioned conclusion, "Ah, love, let us be true to one another!", where previous images take on full emotional weight.  The piece ends as tranquilly as it began, with the wavelike movements of the beginning.
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Samuel Barber Dover Beach Op3 (1931) Dover Beach was written when Barber was a twenty one year old student at the  Curtis Institute and represents the first of his extended pieces for voice and ensemble.  Barber, a singer with a fine baritone voice, was in some demand as a recitalist, a singularly unusual role for a composer and he made the first recording of Dover Beach.  Barber had a rather melancholy nature and preferred solitary interests to the usual combative sports popular in his day.  In this way he might seem to have been at odds with the competitive nature of the society in which he lived.  Setting the poem Dover Beach seems an apt reflection of his personality. Dover Beach is a poem by Matthew Arnold that is deeply pessimistic. Arnold's view is that material progress does not protect us from conflict. The moonlit world of the viewer on the Dover Cliffs is beautiful but unreal, just a dream. The true world is one of darkness "where ignorant armies clash by night." The rich imagery of the poem enabled Barber to reveal the poem's nuances through descriptive musical details e.g. rocking figures in the string parts represent shifting light on the sea, the restrained section, “And Sophocles….” reflecting a more reasoned state of mind. The work gradually builds up through shorter and repeated phrases to an impassioned conclusion, "Ah, love, let us be true to one another!", where previous images take on full emotional weight.  The piece ends as tranquilly as it began, with the wavelike movements of the beginning.