November 5 – Barber’s Adagio

1938

First performance of 28-year-old US composer Samuel Barber‘s (*)(*) famous Adagio for Strings.

Arturo Toscanini conducts the NBC symphony for a small live audience and a radio broadcast, recorded and preserved in the National Recording Registry.

The grieving Adagio was originally written for his 1936 string quartet, Op. 11. It is played at the funerals of F.D.R., Einstein, J.F.K and Princess Grace. It’s heard in Oscar-winning 1986 film Platoon#143, and in 2001 Jeunet 2001 film Amelie#50. with ‘Desiderata’ 

Barber is part of a US group (e.g. Aaron Copland) which joined with ‘French school’ neo-classicism (*), avoiding atonal, serial music in favor of much more popular tonal, lyrical works.

Barber’s 1931 The School for Scandal, a lively overture for a play by 18th-century Irish playwright Richard Sheridan, is another popular work. His Piano Concerto Op. 38, which premiered in NYC on Sep. 24, 1962, won him a second Pulitzer Prize for Music.

See also: List of compositions by Samuel Barber

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