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Samuel L. M. Barlow II
Born Samuel Latham Mitchell Barlow II
(1892-06-01)June 1, 1892
New York City, New York U.S.A.
Died September 19, 1982(1982-09-19) (aged 90)
Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Occupation Composer, Musician and Art Critic

Samuel Latham Mitchell Barlow II (June 1, 1892 – September 19, 1982)[1][2] was a Harvard-educated American composer, pianist and art critic. His compositional style was conservative for his day, and he once stated that he wrote "tunes that wouldn't shock Papa Brahms." However, his music was innovative in its frequent exploration of new performance techniques and practices; including the use of slide projections for his 1936 symphonic concerto Babar.[3]

Early life

Born in New York City, Samuel Latham Mitchell Barlow was the son of Peter Townsend Barlow, a noted N.Y. City Magistrate and the former Virginia Louise Matthews, a sister of author, Brander Matthews.[4][5] Barlow was named after his paternal grandfather, a prominent Wall Street attorney and his older brother Edward Mitchell, after their maternal grandfather, a successful merchant. Edward Mitchell Barlow died in 1901 at the young age of thirteen.

Samuel Barlow graduated with the Harvard Class of 1914 and went on to attend the Institute of Musical Art (Juilliard School) in New York City, studying under Percy Goetschius and Franklin Robinson, and later in Paris with Isidor Philipp at the Paris Conservatoire and Ottorino Respighi at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. During this time Barlow’s music studies were put on hold while he served as a lieutenant with US Army Intelligence during the First World War.[6][7]


Early in his career, Samuel Barlow taught at Settlement schools, contributed to the publication North American Review and served as the first chairman of the New York City Community Chorus, that beginning in 1917 presented free concerts on Sunday afternoons at Central park.[7][8][9]

In 1935 Barlow became the first American composer to have an opera presented at the Opéra-Comique in Paris when the opera house staged his one-act work Mon Ami Pierrot. The opera was based on the life of Jean-Baptiste Lully and used a French-language libretto by Sacha Guitry. The opera was well received and he was awarded the prestigious Légion d'honneur for his achievement. The following year the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski performed his Concerto for Magic Lantern and Symphony Orchestra, Barlow's adaptation of the French children's story, Babar the Elephant.[7] In 1937 Barlow contributed music to the Broadway Musical Amphitryon starring Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne.[7] Barlow composed one other opera, Amanda, which was never performed,[2] and a number of orchestral and chamber music pieces.[7]

His compositional style was conservative for his day, and he once stated that he wrote "tunes that wouldn't shock Papa Brahms." However, his music was innovative in its frequent exploration of new performance techniques and practices; including the use of slide projections for his adaptation of Babar.[3]

Barlow lived much of his life in New York City where he promoted classical music in various civic and professional organizations for several decades; among them was the, of which he was the first chairman. He was also a regular contributor to the journal Modern Music, published by the American League of Composers and in the 1950s served as the President of the board of the American Opera Society.[2]


Portrait of Ernesta Beaux by William Bruce Ellis Ranken, 1933

Samuel L. M. Barlow married Evelyn Harris Brown on April 25, 1916 at New York City.[10] Evelyn, a noted diseuse who had performed on both sides of the Atlantic, had previously been married to Herbert Pomeroy Brown, a Wall Street broker.[11][12] Barlow's only child, Audrey Townsend, was born to this union the following year.[13] Their marriage ended eight years later in Paris when Evelyn was granted a divorce on grounds of abandonment.[14] On May 10, 1928 Barlow married Aimee Ernesta Drinker, the former wife of Ambassador William C. Bullitt,[12] Ernesta was the daughter of Sturgis Drinker, one-time president of Lehigh University, and a member of a family that could trace their Philadelphia roots back to the time of William Penn. As a child her beauty caught the eye of her aunt, painter Cecilia Beaux, and she became the subject of a number of her paintings.[15] After her divorce from Ambassador Bullitt she changed her name to Ernesta Beaux and later wed Samuel Barlow at her aunt's New York residence. At the time of their marriage Ernesta was an interior decorator and would go on to become well known on the national lecture circuit and as a writer commenting on a number of different social issues of the day,[12][16][17] including, over the war years, drafting women for national service.[18]

Barlow Chateau at Èze

In the early 1920s Samuel Barlow fell in love with a charming medieval village discovered one day while vacationing in France along the Mediterranean midway between Nice and Monaco. Èze occupies a pinnacle of rock some 1,400 feet (427 meters) above Cape Ferrat on the French Riviera. On a clear day one could view from the terraces of Èze, the peaks of Corsica to the south and virtually all the Riviera westward toward Toulon.[19][20] After inquiring with the village mayor, Barlow received permission to purchase a dozen or so houses that were no more than crumbling masonry still clinging to the cliff’s side. Over the next few years Barlow built on that site a picturesque estate that blended in with the surrounding architecture and soon became not only a family retreat but also a Mecca for artisans and intellectuals.[19][20]


Samuel Latham Mitchell Barlow died at the age of 90 at the Springfield Retirement Residence in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania on September 19, 1982. He was survived by his daughter, Mrs. Audrey Orndorff.[21] Ernesta Barlow had died the year before at the age of 89.[22]



  • 3 Songs from the Chinese (voice and ensemble, 1924)
  • Vocalise (1926)
  • Alba (symphonic poem, 1927)
  • Ballo Sardo (ballet, 1928)
  • Circus Overture (1930)
  • Piano Concerto (1931)
  • Scherzo (string quartet, 1933)
  • Spanish Quarter (piano, 1933)
  • Mon ami Pierrot (opera, 1934)
  • Biedermeier Waltzes (1935)
  • Babar (symphonic concerto, 1936)
  • Amanda (opera, 1936)
  • Aphitryon 38 (incidental music, 1937)
  • Leda (1939)
  • Sousa ad Parnassum (1939)
  • Conversation with Tchekhov (piano trio, 1940)
  • Jardin de La Notre (piano)


  1. US Passport application (Samuel L. M. Barlow) May 20, 1919
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Obituaries: Composer Samuel L.M. Barlow". Central Opera Service Bulletin, Vol. 25, No. 2. Winter–Spring 1984. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Lynn Vought. "Samuel L.M. Barlow". 
  4. America's successful men of affairs: An encyclopedia of contemporaneous ... edited by Henry Hall
  5. The New York Times – May 10, 1921
  6. The North American Review By Jared Sparks, Edward Everett, James Russell Lowell, Henry Cabot Lodge (1922) pg. 866
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 The New York Times – September 21, 1982 pg D27
  8. The Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) May 27, 1922 pg 8
  9. The North American Review by Jared Sparks, Edward Everett, James Russell Lowell, Henry Cabot Lodge- 1922- pg 866
  10. The New York Times - April 26, 1916
  11. The New York Times - April 30, 1916
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 The New York Times - May 11, 1928
  13. Passenger Manifest October 29, 1926 SS Berengaria
  14. The Bridgeport Telegram - October 28, 1925 pg. 15
  15. The New York Times - June 7, 1970
  16. The Lowell Sun (Lowell, Massachusetts November 21, 1938
  17. San Antonio Light (San Antonio, Texas
  18. The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska)- May 14, 1944 pg. 11
  19. 19.0 19.1 In My Time - By Robert Strausz-Hupé – 1995- pg. 60
  20. 20.0 20.1 Vogue Magazine - February 15, 1927
  21. The New York Times – September 21, 1982
  22. Social Security Death Index
  • Hitchcock, H. Wiley, "Samuel Barlow". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians online.

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