Sitting outside at a country festival, I heard the first bars of Barber’s Adagio for Strings and began to cry

Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings is possibly the saddest piece of music ever composed. Its downward slope starts just with a B flat on the violin, the melancholy swelling with the introduction of the viola, then cello. Its magic lies in its ability to hold tension – a quiver that doesn’t quite …

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