Adagio in G minor
The Adagio in G minor for violin, strings, and organ continuo is a neo-Baroque composition popularly attributed to the 18th-century Venetian master Tomaso Albinoni, but actually composed by 20th-century musicologist and Albinoni biographer Remo Giazotto, purportedly based on the discovery of a manuscript fragment by Albinoni.
The composition is often referred to as "Albinoni's Adagio" or "Adagio in G minor by Albinoni, arranged by Giazotto", but the attribution is incorrect. The ascription to Albinoni rests upon Giazotto's purported discovery of a tiny manuscript fragment (consisting of a few opening measures of the melody line and basso continuo portion) from a slow second movement of an otherwise unknown Albinoni trio sonata.
According to Giazotto, he obtained the document shortly after the end of World War II from the Saxon State Library in Dresden which had preserved most of its collection, though its buildings were destroyed in the bombing raids of February and March 1945 by the British and American Air Forces. Giazotto concluded that the manuscript fragment was a portion of a church sonata (sonata da chiesa, one of two standard forms of the trio sonata) in G minor composed by Albinoni, possibly as part of his Op. 4 set, around 1708.
In his account, Giazotto then constructed the balance of the complete single-movement work based on this fragmentary theme. He copyrighted it and published it in 1958 under a title which, translated into English, reads "Adagio in G Minor for Strings and Organ, on Two Thematic Ideas and on a Figured Bass by Tomaso Albinoni". Giazotto never produced the manuscript fragment, and no official record has been found of its presence in the collection of the Saxon State Library.
Musicologist Muska Mangano, Giazotto's last assistant, discovered a modern but independent manuscript transcription of the figured bass portion and six fragmentary bars of the first violin, "bearing in the top right-hand corner a stamp stating unequivocally the Dresden provenance of the original from which it was taken". This provides some support for Giazotto's account that a manuscript from Dresden was his source. The scholarly consensus is that the Adagio is Giazotto's composition, whatever source may have inspired him.
The piece is most commonly orchestrated for string ensemble and organ, or string ensemble alone, but with its growing fame has been transcribed for other instruments. Italian conductor Ino Savini (1904–1995) transcribed the Adagio for a large orchestra and conducted the piece himself in Ostrava in 1967 with the Janáček Philharmonic. The composition has also permeated popular culture, having been used as background music for such films as Gallipoli, in television programmes, and in advertisements.
Uses in popular culture
The Adagio was used:
- as an underlying score for Orson Welles' 1962 film adaption of Kafka's The Trial
- in the 1962 film Sundays and Cybele (original title Les dimanches de Ville d'Avray)
- in the 1963 Italian documentary film La rabbia, in the Part 1 directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini
- in the 1974 Werner Herzog film The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser
- in the original 1975 version of the film Rollerball
- in the 1979 film Une femme spéciale
- in the 1981 Peter Weir film Gallipoli
- in the 1981 film Dragonslayer
- in the 1982 animated Captain Harlock film Arcadia of My Youth
- in the 1983 Rowan Atkinson short "Dead On Time"
- in the 1983 film Flashdance
- in the 1984 film Sakharov starring Jason Robards as Andrei Sakharov
- in the 1989 Robert Englund version of The Phantom of the Opera, as the Phantom's masterpiece "Don Juan Triumphant" (with lyrics added)
- in the 1990 film Raspad by Mikhail Belikov
- in the 1991 film The Doors at the Père Lachaise Cemetery scene.
- in the 1993 Manoel de Oliveira film Abraham Valley
- in the 1995 film Full Body Massage.
- in the scenes meant to portray cellist Vedran Smailović in the 1997 film Welcome to Sarajevo
- in the 1998 Swedish film Show Me Love (original title Fucking Åmål)
- in Azerbaijani director Rasim Ojagov's 1998 film A hotel room
- as the main theme of Norman McLaren's film Ballet Adagio, a slow-motion study on ballet
- in Turkish director Zeki Demirkubuz's 2009 film Kıskanmak (Envy)
- in the 2000 Russian animated film Adagio by Garry Bardin
- in the 2000 Japanese film Ring_0:_Birthday (scene Unexpected Selection)
- in the 2014 film The Inbetweeners 2
- in the Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch Funniest Joke in the World, the piece is unsuccessfully used in order to prevent fatal hilarity from reading the joke. This is an anachronism, as the sketch is situated in World War II-era Britain, over a decade before the composition was published.
- as background music in the 1975 science-fiction series Space: 1999 (1975–77) (Episode Dragon's Domain)
- as background music in the BBC comedy/drama series Butterflies (1978–83)
- as funeral music in The Sopranos ("Proshai, Livushka")
- as the theme music for the 1980 BBC version of Thérèse Raquin.
- as background music in the Japanese anime series Boys Over Flowers (1996–97).
- as a plot device from which Malcolm of Malcolm in the Middle learns that he doesn't understand music (episode Ida's Dance)
- in a Thanksgiving episode of Bob's Burgers (Season 5, Episode 4 "Dawn of the Peck")
- as background music in S05E02 of Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe.
- in Girlfriends Season 3 Episode 7 Blinded by the Lights character Joan Clayton references the piece in an attempt to impress a People magazine interviewer.
The piece was used in pop music by:
- Swedish Jazz singer Monica Zetterlund on her album "Monica Monica".
- Liesbeth List, in "De Kinderen van de Zee" (1966).
- A vocal version, with lyrics by Gordon Grey, was recorded by The Castells (not the US group of the same name) on a Masquerade 7" single in 1967.
- The Doors, in "Feast of Friends" on the album An American Prayer (1978) & as a 40th anniversary bonus track on the album Waiting for the Sun (1968)
- Richard Clayderman, in "Sentimental Medley" on the album "La musique de l'amour" (1980, re-released 2009)
- The Hungarian singer Pál Szécsi released a single in 1973: the B-side is Ne félj! with music by Albinoni (Adagio) and lyrics by Szécsi. In the next year another famous Hungarian singer, Kati Kovács presented this song too, with lyrics by Szécsi.
- Renaissance, as "Cold is Being", with lyrics by Betty Thatcher, on the album Turn of the Cards (1974). The piece is credited to guitarist and primary composer Michael Dunford (despite not writing any of the music) and Thatcher, with no mention of Giazotto; however, the back notes thank Albinoni for the song. Also recorded by frontwoman Annie Haslam as "Save Us All" on her second solo album Still Life (1985)
- Brian Auger and the Trinity, in "Adagio per archi e organo" on the album Befour (1970)
- Louise Tucker recorded a version with lyrics called "Graveyard Angel" that appeared on her 1983 album, Midnight Blue.
- Yngwie Malmsteen, in Icarus Dream Suite Op. 4 (1984)
- Sigue Sigue Sputnik, in "Albinoni Vs. Star Wars, Pts. 1 & 2" on their second album Dress for Excess (1988).
- Sarah Brightman has a vocal version, "Anytime, Anywhere" on the album Eden (1998) This was then covered by Liriel Domiciano in 2001 and Will Martin in 2007.
- In 1999, Lara Fabian recorded a crossover in both English and Italian, named "Adagio" (later covered by Il Divo and Majida El Roumi).
- In 2003, UK Trance trio Above & Beyond, under their Rollerball alias, produced a trance rendition of Adagio In G with additional opera voices and released it as "Albinoni" on their Anjunabeats record label.
- Dominic Miller, in his album Shapes (2004)
- Sentenced used it as opener for their last concert at show at Club Teatria, Oulu, Finland, on October 1, 2005.
- Sissel Kyrkjebø, in her album "Into Paradise" (2006)
- Anathema used it as opener for their A Moment in Time DVD in 2006.
- Il Divo recorded their version of "Adagio" in Italian featured in their 2008 album The Promise
- Muse used it as an intro to their song "Resistance" in some dates of their The Resistance Tour.
- In 2011, Russian singer Vitas covered an Italian version of "Adagio" for his new program Say You Love in Beijing.
- The Adagio plays a role in Steven Galloway's The Cellist of Sarajevo, in which the cellist pledges to play it every day for 22 days in honour of 22 civilians killed during the siege of Sarajevo.
- Remo Giazotto, Adagio in sol minore per archi e organo, su due spunti tematici e su un basso numerato di Tomaso Albinoni (Milan: Ricordi, 1958).
- Letter from the Saxon State Library (consultant Marina Lang), 24 September 1990, reproduced in facsimile by Wulf Dieter Lugert and Volker Schütz, "Adagio à la Albinoni", Praxis des Musikunterrichts 53 (February 1998), pp. 13–22, here p. 15.
- Nicola Schneider, "La tradizione delle opere di Tomaso Albinoni a Dresda", tesi di laurea specialistica (Cremona: Facoltà di musicologia dell'Università degli studi di Pavia, 2007): 181–86. (See discussion, post by Schneid9, for translated excerpt.)
- BBC Music Magazine, May 2009
- полет над припятью, зона отчуждения – YouTube
- Адажио Adagio – YouTube
- Northern Lights – The Renaissance Fan Site
- Discogs entry of "Befour" by "Brian Auger & the Trinity"
- Muse – Adagio In G Minor + Resistance – Live Oxegen Festival 2010 – YouTube
- VITAS 2011.10.04 柔板(合成) / Adagio_Beijing "Say You Love" – YouTube
- Galloway, Steven (2009). The Cellist of Sarajevo. Toronto: Vintage Canada. p. 261.