1910-1981

"I was meant to be a composer and will be I'm sure. Don't ask me to try to forget this unpleasant thing and go play football - please."

The quote above was in a letter Barber had written to his mother at the age of nine. “I have written this to tell you my worrying secret,” he wrote. Michael S. Sherry in Gay Artists in Modern American Culture believes that the “worrying secret” is that he is unlike other boys and that this unlikeness bothers him and his family. “In a family that nourished his interests,” Sherry writes, “his ambition to compose could not have seemed ‘worrying.’” Barber simply had a terrible time being himself—which was moody, withdrawn, unsocial, worried, and gay—especially around others, sometimes even with himself. But as a composer, he discovered that he had no trouble putting his private feelings into music. There, he could express who he was without the pain or anxiety that came with the usual public exposure of the private self.  [link]

Young Samuel Barber portrait - he is baby-faced and looking over his shoulder.