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Barber's Adagio for Strings


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Williams could not touch Shostakovich's 8th String Quartet. Such an intense expression of grief and pain. I think in many ways the Adagio is more emotional/passionate than a lot of Williams' best work. So yes-some composers do top him.

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No doubt Adagio is fantastic. It has some incredible moments in it, and I think you appreciate it more each time you listen to it. I think there are some moments in Empire of the Sun that give me a similar feel...different, more uplifting, but similar.

Another one of my favorites that give Williams a run for his money is Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 1 - "A Sea Symphony". AMAZING piece.

I often wonder what Williams might have written if he didn't spend most of his time composing for film, or the Olympics etc... Not that I don't LOVE the stuff he has written, but I don't think something on the scope of the Sea Symphony would be at all out of his reach, were he to focus on writing something like it.

Didn't he write a first Symphony? Or am I mistaken? I know his Sinfonietta, but I seem to recall hearing he wrote a first symphony?

-JCM

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There is another piece that is fabulous : The Elegy composed by Howard Hanson to the memory of Serge Koussevitsky , really fantastic !!! To know if Williams can write this kind of music out of cinema , the answer is why ? As his style for cinema and concert pieces is different, at least before the 80's, our days it seems more closer of what he do in a way , for the film he have to apply with what they ask him to write, as the temp tracks he listen before composing anything; Composing a concert piece is something more personnal .

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As much as I love Johnny, I don't think he could ever replicate the gorgeous and blissful sonority of Debussy's tone poem "Prelude on the Afternoon of a Faun".

That piece will never cease to amaze me as long as I live - surely it is a testament to the genius of Human creativity.

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It's heavenly music, but by no means is it beyond the abilities of JW.

I respectfully disagree.

It is a piece that was borne of a certain time, style and passion - things that are hard to reproduce methinks by anyone.

Hmm. I must check that out :)

Indeed you should....you can start here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xA1xHnGb778

Oh...and turn your speakers WAY up. ;)

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What's all this with replicating other masterworks?

Sure he couldn't write Mahler's 3rd Symphony. But Mahler couldn't write Schindler's List or E.T.

Williams can't write anything like that because it would be a replication, out of its context; and even if it were a perfect imitation, it would still be a replication.

I'm not being the JW fanboy here who thinks JW is the greatest composer ever; he can be topped by many people. I'm just saying you can't make these comparisons, because they were written in a completely different historical context.

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I agree whole-heartedly, that one can not compare the works of composers in a different historic and stylistic context. Being one myself, I can vouch for the fact that it has become much more a matter of what has been written before, and what is required of us now. Just because "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun" and Mahler's "Symphony No. 3" are hailed as incredible achievements in music composition and have indeed had a great effect on music since then, those works have already been written and contemporary music can not be judged according to the standards of the past. I'm currently working on a text on this subject, so it is very interesting to see people's views on this debate.

Robert Summers Potterton III S.P.C.

Staff Composer-Blackcoffee Films & Media, Singapore

www.rsp3.com

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And how dare anyone say that no piece of JW music has the same effect as "Adagio for Strings?"

How about "Auschwitz-Birkenau," just to name one?

"A Prayer for Peace"

Heck, even the music played when Darth Vader dies gives me goosebumps.

I'd appreciate "Adagio for Strings" if it weren't the go-to piece for just about every director in the 80s. It was in "Platoon," "The Elephant Man" and "Scarface" most prominently. Now, it's being used in comedic TV episodes. It has lost its impact on me.

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Williams could most certainly create a piece the caliber of Adagio for Strings. He obviously has the expressive power, and from a strictly compositional standpoint, he has ten times the harmonic palette needed. In fact, he might get bored using so much diatonicism.

As gorgeous as Adagio is, if you're looking at compositional brilliance, it's not a great example of something Williams couldn't do IMHO.

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As gorgeous as Adagio is, if you're looking at compositional brilliance, it's not a great example of something Williams couldn't do IMHO.

Well I think it is. JW's music is always complicated and layered. Adagio is beautiful in its simple elegance, and I have yet to hear a Williams composition which has that same quality.

I frankly don't think he could it.

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Thankfully, Barber had the foresight to arrange this piece for string orchestra, as it doesn't get the same affect in it's original string quartet version.

Tim

Lier! I think it depends on the string quartet... When played right (and it takes very good musicians for that, especially to bring out the qualities of this music int he right way), it conveys the same overbearing emotion... just on a more intimate scale. It's like a single person singing in quiet melancholy, getting increasinly more passionate, and finally cry out in despair, only to sink back defeatedly at the end. The string orchestra version would be the same, just for a large group of people... sure it's more overpowering in scale, it sweeps the listener off his feet at the climax... but it's not as personal as the original version, it's more "anonymized".

I believe both versions are equally incredible, just in slightly different ways. :lol:

P.S.: Everyone who enjoys this piece should check out Barber's "Night Flight", the second movement of his second symphony, portraying the mood of a lone pilot in his plane at night, the only outside connection being the beep of his radio... (written during Barber's time in the army in WWII). It's more peaceful an comtemplative, but has in some respects a similar quality to the adagio imho.

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