Saturday, June 23, 2012

Adagio For Strings

I took advantage of this long holiday weekend to completely mess up my sleep schedule. It's one of those little joys in life. When you're so used to a schedule of getting up really early and going to bed early, that it becomes a weird little thrill to stay up way too late and try to sleep late. No matter how hard I try, I am rarely able to sleep past 8am on a weekend, no matter how little sleep I've had.

Today was one of those days. I stayed up until 4am but still couldn't sleep in past 8am, darnit. I woke up and my brain went into insta-overdrive and I couldn't quiet it down again, so I gave in and got up and on with my day. And so of course, around 5:30pm today, it was nap time. I fired up the iTunes and queued up one of my most favorite of recent downloads, a top 100 list of classical compositions.

I drifted happily and peacefully to sleep somewhere in the middle of the first track, Gluck's "Orfeo Ed Euridice" and woke up in the middle of the 19th track, Bach's "Jesus Bleibet Meine Freude" which totaled somewhere around 2 hours of blissful napping, ahhh.

The next track is what inspired this post. I had heard it many times before, but today it seemed to really strike me as one of the most beautiful and moving pieces I've ever heard. Samuel Barber's "Adagio For Strings"

I began to wonder when it was composed and made a guess of somewhere in the late 19th century before consulting Google (what did we ever do before the Internet and search engines?).

And I was surprised to find that this piece was composed in 1936, so recently! So then I started Googling more to find out more about the piece and the composer, and decided to post some of the things I dug up. Really, most of this is easily found within the first few pages of a Google search, so it wasn't deep diggin'...but I really enjoyed reading more about a piece of work that has been so inspiring to contemporary artists such as film directors, musicians and writers, among many others no doubt.

This performance seems to be one of the most popular, probably because of its connection with September 11. Original broadcast from the Albert Hall in London September 15 2001. Leonard Slatkin conducts the BBC Orchestra.

Then I stumbled onto this interesting essay that I'm still making my way through...

The Saddest Music Ever Written: The Story of Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings"

And then found this NPR story on All Things Considered... The Impact of Barber's 'Adagio for Strings'

Of course no Internet-search-&-click-o-rama would be complete without at least glancing through a Wikipedia article. David Lynch's 1980 Oscar-nominated film The Elephant Man, Oliver Stone's Oscar-winning film Platoon, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Oscar-nominated 2001 film Amélie are just a few of the movies that feature this composition (a few of my all-time favorites!) There's a longer list in the article, including TV shows and video games.

Then things got even more surprising. I loved stumbling onto the discovery that Adagio For Strings has been remixed so often, this being one of the most popular mixes (of course it's popular, it's Tiësto for crying out loud), Tiësto - Adagio For Strings...

There are countless trance mixes of the piece out there. I enjoyed checking out quite a few of them on YouTube, with this being another of the more popular ones - William Orbit - Adagio For Strings (Ferry Corsten Mix).

Ohhh and then this nice little surprise. Who doesn't love a beautiful female electric violinist in a sequin dress and rockstar lighting?...Electric Violinist Linzi Stoppard Rocks Adagio For Strings (Electric Violin Remix)

After getting sucked into and lost in at least an hour of remixes and other amazingly unique renditions and interpretations of Adagio For Strings, I noticed the piece appearing in several Internet lists and articles labeled 'saddest music of all time' which of course set me off on another click tangent...

Here: The Saddest Music In The World: 6 Tunes To Make You Teary-Eyed

and here: Barber’s Adagio: The Saddest Piece Ever?

Which reminded me about this movie I saw a few years back (very unique and entertaining), The Saddest Music in the World...

These are the times I'm very thankful to have been born when I was. I get to remember and reminisce about the pre-WWW times of my youth, and get to spend the majority of my life endlessly feeding my curiosities (and easily-sidetracked nature), and enjoying all of the post-WWW mind-expanding perks. Thank you, Internet, and all of you people who feel compelled to put this stuff out there.

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