GREAT MUSIC – Chapter 60
Don’t get whiplash but this week we are heading to the opposite end of the musical spectrum from last week’s rock and roll song. This week we are featuring a piece of music written by the American composer, Samuel Barber.
Barber was born in 1910 and grew up in West Chester, Pennsylvania in a comfortable musical family. While his father was a doctor, his mother was a pianist and some of his aunts sang with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Barber’s mother tried to discourage Samuel in music, insisting he play football and other sports like a normal boy. Needless to say, Barber resisted and found ways to pursue his interest in Music, eventually enrolling in the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
After graduation he continued his interest in composing, creating music for various instruments and voices. He was successful in a minor way until he composed the music we are featuring today – Adagio for Strings in 1936. He later adapted the piece for choirs under the name Angus Dei. I am going to provide YouTube versions of both the string and chorale versions because in my experience the versions seem to evoke different emotions. The human voice is a unique musical instrument and deserves top billing along with orchestras. Listen to the music with your eyes closed and take the trip to whatever destination the music takes you. That is the neat thing about music, each piece can take you to a different place, evoking memories and emotions long thought to be buried but literally raised from the dead of the past or a future that does not yet exist.