Find music by

Sign up for our newsletter

Samuel Barber: Adagio for Strings

Orchestras / Ensembles
Catalogue number900860
Release date2024-03-15

Barber’s Adagio for Strings in films, concerts and commemoration

In a poll conducted by BBC Radio 4 a few years ago, listeners voted Barber’s Adagio for Strings the “saddest piece in the world”. There is no doubt that its broad musical lines have an elegiac, almost religious tone – something the composer himself emphasised in the choral version, written as an Agnus Dei. However, the Adagio’s association with farewell and mourning was not intended by Barber, who conceived of his work as purely instrumental. It has however been used on repeated occasions to mark the deaths of prominent Americans, including Alfred Einstein, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. As funeral music, the Adagio has also been a feature of several films since the 1980s, and two lines of tradition have emerged. On the one hand, the Adagio is often associated with the death of a main character, as in the final transfiguration of the Elephant Man in David Lynch’s film of the same name (1980) or, in a light-hearted alienation of the theme, in The Fabulous World of Amélie (2001), where the heroine imagines her own death being televised. On the other hand, the austere serenity of the Adagio is contrasted with images of violence and suffering, most emphatically in Oliver Stone’s anti-war film Platoon (1986). All these traditions came together in the days after September 11, 2001, when Barber’s Adagio was played over and over again by American radio and television stations – both as a tribute to the victims of the attacks and as a musical expression of American patriotism. Particularly memorable was the live performance on September 15, 2001, when the American conductor Leonard Slatkin conducted the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Last Night of the Proms in London, leaving the hushed audience deeply moved. Thanks to its melancholic yet comforting sound, the Adagio for Strings was often the piece of choice internationally during the Covid-19 pandemic to commemorate the many victims – online or “open air”, on radio and television, and at concerts and other events.
    File formats included in STUDIO QUALITY
    • FLAC 24-bit Stereo
    • FLAC 16-bit Stereo
    • MP3 Stereo
    File formats included in CD QUALITY | MP3
    • FLAC 16-bit Stereo
    • MP3 Stereo
$ 2.30
Extra material for download
  Composer: Patrick Hahn
  Adagio for Strings
01 II. Molto adagio 08:30 $ 2.30 USD
  Album total 08:30
ConductorPatrick Hahn
OrchestraMunich Radio Orchestra
ComposerPatrick Hahn

Daily Deal
Top downloads is a completely virtual record label and a secure online store open 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Customers and visitors can download classical music in high quality FLAC or MP3 and find out more about classical music.

Start page    24 Bit FAQ    Assistance    About eClassical    Classical News