Sunday, June 23, 2024
HomeLaura PerrinsMy classical music choice: Barber’s Adagio for Strings

My classical music choice: Barber’s Adagio for Strings


This Sunday’s musical choice is Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings.

This version is played by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

The American composer Samuel Barber (1910-1981) wrote in a neo-Romantic style, turning out dramatic and lyrical works in a tonal language. In the 1930s some lauded him as one of the most talented American composers of his generation but the modernists labelled his work as utterly anachronistic. Barber composed works including A Slumber Song of the Madonna and Dover Beach. He also wrote a violin concerto.

However, without a doubt most people know Barber for his Adagio for Strings. Toscanini performed it in 1938 and it was played at the funeral of President Roosevelt in 1945.

Its breath-like pauses and subdued sadness leave their mark. It became firmly lodged in the American psyche when Oliver Stone used it for his Vietnam film Platoon. The melancholy tone of the piece perfectly sums up the trauma of the soldiers and the fear that stalked the nation.

A masterpiece.

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