Barber Turns 100
If ever I was hard pressed to name a favorite song or piece of music, Samuel Barber’s masterpiece Adagio for Strings would likely top the list. Like many, my first exposure to Barber’s famed work, with its evocative and emotionally charged beauty, came from its inclusion within Oliver Stone’s Vietnam War film Platoon (winner of Best Picture of 1986). One of the twentieth century’s most recognized songs, Adagio for Strings elevated Barber’s reputation, placing him alongside other notable American 20th Century composers like Aaron Copland and Charles Ives. Barber’s lesser known work Knoxville: Summer of 1915, developed for soprano (with lyrics) and orchestra, is a romantic and nostalgic work often played during the summer months for its suggestive and wistful feeling.
NPR recently took a look at Barber’s Adagio for Strings, analyzing its musical structure in order to better appreciate and understand its power to move and stir human emotions.