Today, almost three quarters of a century later, Barber’s Adagio for Strings is more than just a staple of the orchestral repertory; it is almost always turned to when American orchestras seek a musical work to provide beauty, solace and inspiration for their audiences. This was first noted in November 1963, after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, when hundreds of ensembles throughout the U.S. spontaneously chose to play the Adagio in tribute; it was equally true in the days following 9/11. It is revered not only for its sensual appeal, but also for the way it seems to evoke a prayerful feeling of solemn contemplation—and, ultimately, of inspiration. It is Barber’s most popular and frequently performed work.
The Universal Appeal of Adagio for Strings