Who Wrote the Adagio in G Minor? – A Musical Mystery

Updated on April 21, 2016
Tomaso Albinoni
Tomaso Albinoni | Source

Do You Recognize This Piece?

Before you go any further, please listen to the music in the video clip below. Recognize it? If you do, it's no wonder. This hauntingly beautiful piece of music has been in the soundtrack of at least 20 movies (including Dragonslayer, Rollerball, Flashdance and Gallipoli), many popular TV shows, and throughout the years has been rendered by at least 10 modern pop and rock groups. I can't remember where I first heard this exquisite piece of music, but I fell in love with it immediately. Every time I heard it after that, I kept meaning to find out who wrote it so that I could purchase it. When I finally tracked down the composer, I was surprised to find that there is a question as to who actually wrote this classical masterpiece.

Is This Piece Familiar to You?

Did you recognize the music?

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Is the Composer Tomaso Albinoni or Remo Giazotto?

The Adagio in G Minor for Organ and Strings has been popularly attributed to Tomaso Albinoni (1671-1751), a Venetian baroque composer who wrote at least 81 operas as well as many instrumental works. Nine collections of his works were published during his lifetime, and his works were favorably compared to his contemporaries Vivaldi and Corelli. Unfortunately, much of his music was lost during the bombing of Dresden in 1945. Since then many musicologists have had to reconstruct his lost music from fragments of it found in Dresden archives. Musicologist, music critic and composer Remo Giazotto was trying to systematically catalogue Albinoni's works, and asked the Saxon State Library of Dresden to send him the scraps of what was left of Albonini's “Trio Sonata”. From only the bassline found in the slow part of the trio and a few fragments of melody, Giazotto magically constructed the Adagio. He published it in 1958, attributing it to Albinoni. Later, in 1965, he claimed full credit for the work. Today there is still controversy on who to give credit to. I certainly think that Giazotto deserves at least partial credit, if not full, since he had so little to work with. Ironically, this is the piece that Albinoni is most famous for. All I know is that it is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard. Apparently, given the usage in movies, TV, and renditions by popular artists, I am not alone in that belief.. Here are some renditions of the Adagio in G Minor – enjoy!

Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Margaret Perrottet


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        Costique 3 weeks ago

        Do you really believe a such of music was lost until Giazzoto found it again? No mention in the music history of the best-known Adagio of ours time? Logic is showing very easy that Giazotto composed it inspired by few measures from Albinoni...

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        chris yarnelkl 8 months ago

        tomaso albinoni did a graet job I like it very much

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        Svein Gerald Hansen 12 months ago

        If Remo Giazotto had heard the music played before,

        I think Albinoni should be the composer.

        My father could hear a song once, and write it down in 4 voices,

        without an instrument. So....

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        Laraine 18 months ago

        I wonder how many possible fans Albinoni has lost (apart from somebody I know) because of this piece being attributed to him. Remo Giazotto should have more sense than to saddle a composer he was supposed to like with such a ghastly dirge. The piece that should really be known as "Albinoni's Adagio" is the slow movement of the Concerto in D minor for Oboe Op. 9 No. 2. My favourite performance is by Paul Goodwin with the King's Consort. This concerto is way up there with Vivaldi's best.

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        Margaret Perrottet 20 months ago from Pennsauken, NJ

        So glad you enjoyed the article!

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        Arthur 20 months ago

        First heard this piece in Gallipoli and learned about it then realising in fact it could not have been played in the trenches as depicted in the movie, dramatic licence i guess. Anyhow two pieces i want played at my own funeral will be the Adagio and Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini both beautiful, thsnk you, this has been enlightening

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        Oscar gunther md. 20 months ago

        I am 85,and had heard it many times. But then took me 3 days of concentration to

        Remember the name of the piece and the composer. What a struggle, but it was very

        Worth while. Now I wrote it down in many places. What a superb piece !!!

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        Fuat 22 months ago

        I am grateful to you.

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        Margaret Perrottet 5 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

        rajan jolly - So glad you found this interesting. Many thanks for voting and sharing.

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        Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

        Voted up and interesting and I agree a part of the credit for this music ought to go to Remo Giazotto for having made such magical music from the fragments available to him.

        Voted up, beautiful and sharing.

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        Margaret Perrottet 5 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

        tillsontitan, thanks so much for stopping by - you're input is always great, and the votes up are so appreciated. This is probably one of the easily recognizable classical piece in pop culture, but I'll bet most people don't know the story behind it.

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        Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

        Amazing! The music was beautiful (all of it) and the facts a great education! You've captured all of us with the ear to hear it but never know where it actually came from...

        Voted up, useful, and interesting.

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        Margaret Perrottet 5 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

        Kathleen - My favorite pop rendition is by Yngwie Malmsteen on the Rising Force Album. If you read the Clair de Lune article that I link to, you'll see that Clair de Lune was in the Twilight movie. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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        Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

        I walked into my wedding to "Clair de Lune." Another hub I'll have to read! This was fascinating. Didn't realize the Doors were so "classic."

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        Margaret Perrottet 5 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

        shinigirisheyes, it really is one of the more recognizable classical pieces due to its extensive use in movies and pop artists. But I was right with you - I recognized it, but had no idea who composed it. Thanks as always for stopping by and reading - always good to hear from you.

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        Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

        After listening I recognized it immediately. Such an interesting and highly unique subject! I must plead great ignorance as I was under the impression a later artist had composed it.

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        Margaret Perrottet 5 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

        I didn't realize that the Doors did it until I researched this. Thanks for reading and commenting, Bill.

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        Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

        Well that was fascinating! I learn the coolest stuff on HP! I knew the Doors did this, but I had no idea where it came from. Great info and hub.