Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What leaves me speechless

Ask me what’s my favorite movie, book, or play, and I will probably give you instead my Top Ten List. It’s simply too difficult to bring it down to just one.

But if you ask me what’s my favorite song or piece of music, it always comes down to one: Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Op. 11.  I first heard this piece as background in a movie and was so struck by it, that I searched and researched until I found out what it was.

Samuel Barber

Samuel Barber was born in 1910 in West Chester, Pennsylvania, into a well-educated family. His father was a physician and his mother an amateur pianist. Barber was only 26 when he wrote, "Adagio for Strings," a piece that some describe as full of sorrow, even calling it "the saddest music ever written."

But I disagree. When I need to concentrate in my writing, I often play an album of eight different versions of "Adagio for Strings" performed by various artists, a gift from my dear friend John. For me, it's the most beautiful orchestral piece I’ve ever heard. It mesmerizes me. It stirs me. It opens my heart to levels within me where creativity dwells. No matter how often I hear it, it easily and without warning, reaches in and blesses my Spirit. 

Years ago, our family spent the summer in Oxford, England, while Michael was working. The week before we left to come home, I was able to hear “Adagio for Strings” performed “live” at Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre with my daughter Rebekah.

For some things, there truly are no words.

I wasn’t able to find a YouTube video to share with you of the Adderbury Ensemble Chamber Orchestra that performed that night, but I did find a video of Leonard Slatkin conducting the BBC Orchestra in a live performance. It was broadcast on September 15 2001, in honor of those who died a few days earlier in New York City. 

10 minutes worth spending:
Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Op. 11