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

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?

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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!

© 2012 Margaret Perrottet

Comments 14 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 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.

mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 3 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ Author

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

shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 3 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.

mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 3 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ Author

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.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 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."

mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 3 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ Author

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!

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 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.

mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 3 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ Author

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.

rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 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.

mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 3 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ Author

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

Fuat 4 months ago

I am grateful to you.

Oscar gunther md. 2 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 !!!

Arthur 7 weeks 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

mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 7 weeks ago from Pennsauken, NJ Author

So glad you enjoyed the article!

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