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Listening Again to Barber's Adagio for Strings as Film Music

Listening Again to Barber's Adagio for Strings as Film Music JUlIe M c QUInn l istening Again to Barber ’s Adagio for Strings as Film Music Introduction: A Multiplicity of Meanings I first heard Samuel Barber ’s Adagio for Strings in 1986 in a movie the- ater, accompanied by images of violence, cruelty, death, and betrayal in Oliver Stone’s Platoon. I cried as I watched Sergeant e lias, abandoned by his platoon, being shot down by enemy soldiers, while the Adagio soared to its climax in sync with my emotions. Many years later, when I saw David l ynch’s The Elephant Man (1980), I knew more about the Adagio’s history of elegiac associations, and I knew what the music meant to me because of my experience with Platoon. So when I watched John Merrick die at the end of The Elephant Man, I cried again, and the Adagio lamented with me over his death. now, after researching this film and the director ’s aesthetics, and experiencing the director ’s other films, I read the music in a completely different way—the music no longer la- ments, but transcends. In the most recent offering of my course “Borrowed Music in the Mov- ies,” students came to the l fi ms with http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Music University of Illinois Press

Listening Again to Barber's Adagio for Strings as Film Music

American Music , Volume 27 (4) – Feb 26, 2010

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Publisher
University of Illinois Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2009 Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
ISSN
1945-2349

Abstract

JUlIe M c QUInn l istening Again to Barber ’s Adagio for Strings as Film Music Introduction: A Multiplicity of Meanings I first heard Samuel Barber ’s Adagio for Strings in 1986 in a movie the- ater, accompanied by images of violence, cruelty, death, and betrayal in Oliver Stone’s Platoon. I cried as I watched Sergeant e lias, abandoned by his platoon, being shot down by enemy soldiers, while the Adagio soared to its climax in sync with my emotions. Many years later, when I saw David l ynch’s The Elephant Man (1980), I knew more about the Adagio’s history of elegiac associations, and I knew what the music meant to me because of my experience with Platoon. So when I watched John Merrick die at the end of The Elephant Man, I cried again, and the Adagio lamented with me over his death. now, after researching this film and the director ’s aesthetics, and experiencing the director ’s other films, I read the music in a completely different way—the music no longer la- ments, but transcends. In the most recent offering of my course “Borrowed Music in the Mov- ies,” students came to the l fi ms with

Journal

American MusicUniversity of Illinois Press

Published: Feb 26, 2010

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