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View Full Version : Samuel Barber - Adagio for Strings

2003-10-02, 07:19
Samuel Barber was an American composer who lived from 1910 to 1981. His best known work seems to be "Adagio for Strings, Opus 11", which was written in 1938. It was played at president FDR and president Kennedy's funeral. It was also the theme in the movie "Platoon". He originally wrote two variations: one for a quartet and one for a larger orchestra.

I was thinking of the song today and I started downloading all sorts of variations I could find. I specifically wanted a version of the song played on the organ, because that is my favorite instrument and I thought the song would sound great using it.

I didn't find anything on the p2p networks regarding the organ, so I went into the Virgin record store at 14th Street in Manhattan and found a CD that had eight variations of the song. One of them was played on the organ. The organ used in the recording reminds me of Brahms organ music. It was recorded at St. Thomas church in midtown Manhattan.

The William Orbit version is a good song. It is played on a keyboard, but it has a similar sound to the classical strings. I like it better than the classical versions. It is played slowly and it lasts more than nine minutes. I find that it is just the right speed. There are faster versions which last about seven minutes, but I find that they are too fast to be solemn. You get that variability with a lot of classical music. The speeds and lengths of songs are not constant but vary depending on the player, as well as the constraints of the record company trying to squeeze it onto the CD, like when they are selling a "complete works" type of CD.

I also like in the William Orbit version that there is little hint of the player. I was disappointed in the classical versions because they had expressive players, which is that the players took it upon themselves to make their mark upon the work. On the CD I have the Boston Symphony orchestra and the Tokyo String Quartet, so of course there were egos involved who couldn't resist playing it so that their style was evident. Basically that is a milder version of what Glenn Gould (http://inkpot.com/classical/glenngould.html) used to do. He muttered during studio recordings and people thought it was a sign of genius.

I also downloaded three techno versions of the song: "ferry corsten", "minimalistix", and "atb". I liked the Minimalistix version the best, so I made it available here as well.

organ version (http://www.napsterite.org/eclectica/mp3/Samuel Barber - Adagio for Strings (played on organ).mp3) 7.8 MB
William Orbit version (http://www.napsterite.org/eclectica/mp3/william orbit - barber%27s adagio for strings.mp3) 13.1 MB
Minimalistix version (http://www.napsterite.org/eclectica/mp3/william orbit - barber%27s adagio for strings (minimalistix remix).mp3) 9.7 MB