Composer Samuel Barber (1910–1981) is one of the greatest figures in the history of American music. He was the American composer who enjoyed recognition, esteem and popularity from the beginning of her career. He started to compose at the age of seven, and in an oft-quoted, charming letter he wrote to his mother at the age of nine, he declared: “Dear Mother: I have written this to tell you my worrying secret… 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—Sometimes I’ve been worrying about this so much that it makes me mad (not very).” He studied at the famous Curtis Institute, and in 1935 became a member of the American Academy in Rome. He composed the String quartet in B flat major in 1936, and later rearranged its second movement for the string orchestra. At its world premiere in 1938, it was conducted by Toscanini. While the Adagio has since become a standard of string orchestra repertoires, with a popularity that eclipses that of any other work the composer wrote later, several other of his compositions have also proved enduring and continue to be performed. Notable among his works for the stage are Vanessa, whose libretto was written by his partner and fellow composer, Gian Carlo Menotti, and which had its world premiere at the Metropolitan in 1958, and Antony and Cleopatra, which was presented at the opening of the new Metropolitan in 1966. Of his numerous piano pieces, Sonata Op. 26 is considered the most significant, and was premiered by Vladimir Horowitz in 1949.