Soprano Soloist with San Francisco Symphony Soundbox
Samuel Barber’s, Knoxville: Summer of 1915
Originally written in 1935 and published in 1938 in the Parisian Review, this piece became the classic prelude to his Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel published posthumously, A Death In The Family.
According to Agee, this now legendary piece was written in an hour an a half. “ I was greatly interested in improvisatory writing, as against carefully composed, multiple-draft writing: i.e., with a kind of parallel to improvisation in jazz, to a certain kind of “genuine” lyric which I thought should be purely improvised… It took possibly an hour and a half; on revision, I stayed about 98 per cent faithful to my rule, for these “improvised” experiments, against any revision whatever.” said Agee before his early death at the age of 45. An excerpt was set to music by Samuel Barber in 1947, and has become legend. However, for me, there is nothing more powerful than the purity of this in it’s entirety . Of course, it’s about a summer but it’s more importantly about identity, fatherhood, and the incredible power of living on this earth….