Samuel Barber – A Hand of Bridge

This post is long overdue but sometimes real life gets in the way of blogging, but anyways… This is part ½ of my trade with Guy Minnebach and i was neither aware of the “book” nor the fact that he had planned to include it in the deal. So it was quite a pleasant surprise, in more ways than one.

Even though it didn’t require a genius to understand that this is a recent reprint (if nothing else the barcode on the back was a dead giveaway) i was quite intrigued by the story of this. As usual i had to piece together bits of information from here and there and along the way it just kept getting more and more interesting. I’m not going to pretend i know anything about opera but i’m going to have to try and get into it a little bit. First of this is the musical score to an opera namned A Hand of Bridge by Samuel Barber. A perhaps useless but funny fact is that it is most likely the shortest opera that is regularly performed clocking in at around nine minutes. So i guess you better get there early to make sure there’s not a huge line at bar in case you want a glass of wine before the show… The operas “libretto” (from what i understand from wikipedia this is the text intended to be used in an extended work of music – for example opera) is by a guy named Gian Carlo Menotti. And this is where it starts to get interesting… Guy had told me a little bit about the relationship between Warhol and Gian Carlo Menotti, for example that Warhol also did some drawings of stage decors and costumes for another of Menotti’s operas. I assume this was for an opera called Introductions and Goodbyes, i’ve found an old listing of one of these drawings being sold at Sotheby’s here.

Some sites claim that opera was composed by a guy named Lukas Foss at the invitation of Menotti who wanted an additional work for a program of short operas he was planning for his Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. Other sites credit Menotti with the opera so i don’t know what’s up with that. Anyways, the italian festival was founded in 1958 and the US counterpart in 1977, both by Menotti. Apparently the US festival has now come to be recognized as America’s premier performing arts festival. On yet another side note Billy Name who was the archivist at The Factory co-designed the lighting for the festival in 1960.

So… time to get to the point before i lose myself in all this opera and festival stuff. It seems focus has also been on inviting young and promising artists to give them a platform on which to perform and it seems that in the early days the festival featured an exhibition by Andy Warhol. I’ve not been able to figure out the details on this which is a bit annoying but what can you do… Warhol might have been featured many times and in many ways but the only thing i could really find something interesting on was from 2011 when Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips were commissioned by the Andy Warhol Museum to compose music for a selection of Warhol’s rarely seen silent-film portraits, his famous Screen Tests.

So that’s that… From all this blabbering i’d say it’s a fair guess that Warhol and Menotti crossed paths more than once and for some reason or another Warhol ended up doing the design for this score. The design seems to have changed a bit from the original look as can be seen in this image. Personally i like that preliminary design better but the final result is still pretty cool. I’ve also learned from Guy Minnebach that the original edition printed in 1960(?) had the price of $2,5 printed on the front in Julia Warhola’s handwriting. There is also a later reprint with $6 printed on the front. The recent reprint that i now got is very easy to find on various sites, Sheetmusicplus for example… Seeing the name of the publisher of this – Hal Leonard – also brought back some fond (and expensive) memories of the days before the internet and easily accessible tabulature when i used to buy sheet music for guitar.

Anyways, this might not be a perfect fit in my collection of dust jackets but it will definitely find it’s place right next to it among the books in The Best In Children’s Books series and some other various things. Thanks again Guy!

HandOfBridge1 HandOfBridge2 HandOfBridge3

2 thoughts on “Samuel Barber – A Hand of Bridge

  1. Another excellent post! I love learning new things about this under appreciated aspect of Warhol’s career. And your extra informational tidbits are appreciated greatly.

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