Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker, explaining in his 2007 book, The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, that classical music in America “has not lost its binding power,” adding: “Whenever the American dream suffers a catastrophic setback, Barber’s Adagio plays on the radio.”, Music Player amzn_assoc_marketplace = "amazon"; The version in the Music Player below is by The Dale Warland Singers from their 1995 album Cathedral Classics.

That has changed; for me, the work is a virtual soundtrack to the tragedy of war…Vietnam, or any other. It’s not just sad, nor melancholic, nor tearful. “Samuel Barber: Agnus Dei (Adagio for Strings),”, Uploaded by lee32 uk, The Choir of Trinity College, Cam- bridge, UK. CD cover for the 1938 premiere of Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” by Toscanini. The version in the Music Player below is by The Dale Warland Singers from their 1995 album.

But it is the Elias death scene with “Adagio” that really moves Anderson: …When I first saw Platoon, I thought the use of Barber’s melancholic ode a bit overdone at the beginning. But he is too late, as the helicopter has already lifted off. Click for CD. In 2009, a New Age music group named “eRa,” headed by French composer Eric Lévi, released the album Classics that includes a version of “Adagio for Strings.” eRa’s music mixes Gregorian chants and sometimes world music with contemporary electronic arrangements.

Melinda Bargreen, “’The Saddest Music Ever Written’: Samuel Barber’s ‘Adagio for Strings,’ Deconstructed” (Book Review), Seattle Times, Thursday, December 2, 2010. Click for CD.

Steve Schwartz, “Samuel Barber: Adagio for Strings, Op. His version uses a bass pedal and takes the music an octave lower. Barber died of cancer at the age of 71 in 1981 in New York and is buried in West Chester, Pennsylvania next to his parents and sister. WQXR Features, “9/11: Music of Reflection and Resilience,” (New York Public Radio), Wednesday, September 8, 2010. “Agnus Dei” – Samuel Barber

Honestly, this piece is beautiful and I don’t think it’s overused.

To me, this scene is one of the most powerful sequences in any film I’ve ever seen. In those years, one of the most popular showcases for classical music was the weekly NBC classical music radio show from New York featuring the NBC Symphony Orchestra. They fall back on phrases like “finely felt,” “poetic,” “nothing phoney,” “a love affair.”  There’s no real complication to the Adagio, no technique or unusual turn of harmony that holds the secret of its success.

A few even find it celebratory at its climax.

Gian Carlo Menotti and Samuel Barber, circa 1930s. Comments to: As beautiful as Barber’s music is, I’m sick of its overuse. See also “Sources” below for additional works and references., December 12, 2013. amzn_assoc_placement = "adunit0";

It has such a gripping, intense, spiritual feel to it…which is what makes it work so well for the moment of Elias’ death. I still think that the way the piece is used in The Elephant Man is incredibly effective, but how will I ever be able to watch Amélie or Platoon without rolling my eyes? Through the years, Barber’s “Adagio” has received the admiration and sometimes wonderment of other notable composers.

On this 2003 CD, Leonard Bernstein conducts the New York Philharmonic Orchestra with works from Samuel Barber and others, including “Adagio for Strings.” Click for CD.

“Elephant Man” John Merrick at right receiving audience ovation during night at the theater before his final “sleep” scene when Barber’s “Adagio” is movingly used. Barber was one of the first students at Curtis in 1924, and it was there that he met his life-long friend, partner, and collaborator, Gian Carlo Menotti. But Elias is only wounded. 11,”, 1995.