Who Wrote the Adagio in G Minor? – A Musical Mystery
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?
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!
- Tomaso Albinoni: his life in Venice, oboe concertos.
Tomaso Albinoni: his life and work in Venice. Music sample.
© 2012 Margaret Perrottet