Adagio for Strings is a work by Samuel Barber, arranged for string orchestra from the second movement of his String Quartet, Op. 11. Barber finished the arrangement in 1936, the same year as he wrote the quartet. It was performed for the first time in 1938, in a radio broadcast from a New York studio attended by an invited audience, conducted by Arturo Toscanini, who also took the piece on tour to Europe and South America. It is disputed whether the first performance in Europe was conducted by Toscanini or Henry Wood. Its reception was generally positive, with Alexander J. Morin writing that Adagio for Strings is "full of pathos and cathartic passion" and that it "rarely leaves a dry eye."
The piece begins with a B flat played by violins, leading to the lower strings' entrance. The rhythm is mainly compressed with sustained notes and includes both the time signatures of 4/4 and 6/4. The piece can be heard in many TV shows and movies.
While Barber rejected many arrangements published by G. Schirmer, such as the organ arrangement by William Strickland, he did transcribe the piece in 1967 for eight-part choir, as a setting of the Agnus Dei ("Lamb of God").
Barber's Adagio for Strings...