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Composer: Samuel Barber

Instrument: Marimba Duo

Level: Intermediate

Published: 2014

Price: €16.00

Item details

  • Description +
    • Adapted by Nancy Zeltsman
      Duration: 9 min.

      This adaption is based on the second movement of Barber’s String Quartet, Op. 11, marked Molto adagio. The work was arranged for string orchestra by the composer in 1936 (the same year he completed the quartet). Titled Adagio for Strings, it is arguably the piece for which Barber is best known. It was first performed in 1938 in a radio broadcast conducted by Arturo Toscanini, along with Barber’s first Essay for Orchestra. Adagio for Strings has since been used in the soundtrack of many TV shows and movies. “With a tense melodic line and taut harmonies, the composition is considered by many to be the most popular of all 20th-century orchestral works.” (NPR Music) The work has been performed at many solemn events such as funerals of important public figures.

  • Instrumentation +
    • Two Marimbas

  • About the composer +
    • Samuel Osborne Barber II (March 9, 1910 – January 23, 1981) was an American composer of orchestral, opera, choral, and piano music. He is one of the most celebrated composers of the 20th century: music critic Donal Henahan stated that "Probably no other American composer has ever enjoyed such early, such persistent and such long-lasting acclaim."

      His Adagio for Strings (1936) has earned a permanent place in the concert repertory of orchestras. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music twice: for his opera Vanessa (1956–57) and for the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (1962). Also widely performed is his Knoxville: Summer of 1915 (1947), a setting for soprano and orchestra of a prose text by James Agee. At the time of his death, nearly all of his compositions had been recorded.

  • Reviews +
    • Review (Percussive Notes, July 2016)

      Samuel Barber (1910–1981) was a monumental 20th-century American composer who is probably best known for his timeless 1936 composition “String Quartet, Op. 11,” which has its second movement marked Molto Adagio. In 1936, Barber arranged this second movement for string orchestra, and it was performed on live radio in 1938 under the direction of Arturo Toscanini. Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” has almost become a standard repertoire for solemn events such as at funerals of important public figures.

      Marimba virtuoso Nancy Zeltsman has adapted and edited this eight-minute masterpiece for two marimbists: one performing on a low-E marimba (upper part) and the second on a 5-octave marimba. Mallet selection and attention to dynamics and phrasing are necessities for this duet to be performed successfully. A recording can be heard on the CD Pedro and Olga Learn to Dance, featuring marimba duos performed by Jack Van Geem and Zeltsman.

      This marimba duo is superbly adapted and would be an excellent addition to an advanced-level percussion recital.

      Jim Lambert

  • Credits +
    • Front Cover image: Robert Scott, Circling Hawk Photography (rwalkleyscott.zenfolio.com)
      Front Cover design: Ronni Kot Wenzell
      Engraving: Johan Svitzer
      Printed in Copenhagen, Denmark