Adagio in G minor
The Adagio in G minor for strings and organ is a neo-Baroque composition commonly 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. There is a continuing scholarly debate about whether the alleged fragment was real, or a musical hoax perpetrated by Giazotto, but there is no doubt about Giazotto's authorship of the remainder of the work.
The composition is often referred to as "Albinoni's Adagio" or "Adagio in G minor by Albinoni, arranged by Giazotto". The ascription to Albinoni rests upon Giazotto's purported discovery of a 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.
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.
In popular culture
The Adagio has been used in many films, television programmes, advertisements, recordings, and books. Notable occurrences include:
- as the main theme in Last Year at Marienbad (1961) directed by Alain Resnais
- in the original 1975 version of the film Rollerball
- in the 1981 Peter Weir film Gallipoli
- in the 1983 film Flashdance
- Yngwie Malmsteen, in Icarus Dream Suite Op. 4 (1984)
- in the 1991 film The Doors at the Père Lachaise Cemetery scene
- a 1999 crossover song in English and Italian, "Adagio", by Lara Fabian
- in the 2016 film Manchester by the Sea
- Wolf Hoffmann recorded a neo-classical metal version, released in his Headbangers Symphony album (2016)
- Dekel, Jon. "Is Albinoni's Adagio the biggest fraud in music history?". CBC Music. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
- 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.
- Van Horn, Jr., Ray. "Wolf Hoffmann Headbangers Symphony". Blabbermouth.net. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
- Headbangers Symphony at Discogs