Adagio for Strings; Opus 11 by Samuel Barber

Adagio for Strings; Opus 11

Song Information

Adagio for Strings is a work for string orchestra, composed by the American composer Samuel Barber from the second movement of his String Quartet. Barber finished the piece in 1936, and in 1938, it was conducted by Arturo Toscanini. Toscanini's conducting was recorded at 8H Studio for radio broadcasting. Toscanini took the piece on tour to Europe and South America. It is disputed whether the first performance of Adagio in Europe was conducted by Toscanini or Henry J. Wood. Barber had rejected many arrangements published by G. Schirmer, such as the organ arrangement by William Strictland. The piece begins with a B flat played by violins, leading to the lower strings' entrance. The rhythm is mainly compressed with sustained notes and includes both the time signatures of 4/4 and 6/4. Its reception was generally positive, with Alexander J. Morin writing that Adagio for Strings contains "full of pathos and cathartic passion, rarely leaves a dry eye." The piece can be heard in many TV shows and movies. Show video tutorial!

About the Artist

Samuel Osborne Barber II (March 9, 1910 January 23, 1981) was an American composer of orchestral, opera, choral, and piano music. His Adagio for Strings is his most popular composition and widely considered a masterpiece of modern classical music. He was twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music, for his opera Vanessa and his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. His Knoxville: Summer of 1915, a work for soprano and orchestra, was an acclaimed setting of prose by James Agee. From his early to late twenties, Barber wrote a flurry of successful compositions, launching him into the spotlight of the classical music world. Many of his compositions were commissioned or first performed by such famous artists as Vladimir Horowitz, Eleanor Steber, Raya Garbousova, John Browning, Leontyne Price, Pierre Bernac, Francis Poulenc, and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. When Barber was 28, his Adagio for Strings was performed by the NBC Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Arturo Toscanini in 1938, along with his first Essay for Orchestra. The Adagio had been arranged from the slow movement of Barber's String Quartet, Op. 11.
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Adagio for Strings; Opus 11

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