I remember sitting in my apartment listening to this song over and over, hearing the sound of aircraft taking off through the open window - the sound of my classmates going away for the summer - ten long weeks.

This song is also part of the soundtrack to the movie Platoon and has recently reappeared in a remix by Madonna producer William Orbit.

It is also the score for the opening scene of 'Homeworld', as the mothership containing the diaspora exits the spaceborne dock for its first and final journey back to the homeworld after 3000 years in exile.

Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings has become an unofficial anthem of mourning, particularly in America. It was played at the funerals of President's Kennedy and Roosevelt and it was also played at Princess Grace's funeral. Barber originally wrote this piece as the second movement of a string quartet in 1936, however just two years later he arranged it for string orchestra and it is this arrangement that was to become his most popular and widely known work.

Baber's Adagio for Strings has a very distinctive opening, and it instantly recognisable by the first few bars, which start softly and slowly build. It continues to build, and build, and build, until it ultimately reaches its peak in a spectacular climax. The rest of the piece is effectively the journey down the other side, back to a soft and slow end. The piece is based upon musical sequence, which is a collection of notes repeatedly played either slightly higher or slightly lower than the preceding collection. This form of musical composition is exceedingly basic and it generally distained by serious composers, only to be used occasionally. Barber on the other hand uses it to form the extended twisting themes that make his Adagio so powerful.

Its use is rather striking in popular culture, it is the main theme in the movie 'Platoon' however it also features in 'Elephant Man' and 'Lorenzo's Oil'. The version from 'Lorenzo's Oil' is an unaccompanied vocal choir arrangement Barber did later in life, to the words of 'Agnus Dei'. It's use in 'remixes' has increased in recent years, Sean "Puffy" Combs used the vocal arrangement on his The No Way Out CD in 1997 and William Orbit released a remix on his Pieces in a Modern Style album in early 2000.

There is a genuine simplicity to Barber’s Adagio, and on the surface it is hard to see what makes it so powerful. Barber doesn’t use any music tricks; he doesn’t try and do anything spectacularly new or original. The whole piece is simple in its design and I think that people take note of that and treasure it for what it is, a modern classic.

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