“Adagio in G minor for violin, strings, and organ continuo” supposedly composed by Tomaso Albinoni has made a come-back into my frequently played personal playlist. Reappearances of this piece happen every ten-years or so. “Albinoni’s Adagio” is one of the most beautiful neo-Baroque compositions ever written–in my opinion.
There is a musicologists’ continuing debate about the Adagio. It was actually composed by 20th century Albinoni biographer and composer Remo Giazotto. It was supposedly based upon the discovery of an alleged manuscript fragment of Albinoni’s work. The debate centers around whether or not the music fragment is real or is a hoax perpetrated by Giazotto. There is, however, no doubt about Giazotto’s composition of the “Adagio in G”.
My renewed obsession with “Albinoni’s Adagio” began when a friend emailed a link to a different adagio that he believed I would enjoy. In a friendly tit-for-tat, I replied with a link to a string quartet version of “Albinoni’s Adagio”. Well, that’s all it took for me to dig out my old vinyl copies of albums containing the gorgeous piece of music.
The word “gorgeous” isn’t the only adjective to describe the music, a more accurate descriptor is the word “harmonious”. In what is probably Giazotto’s most popular and beautiful composition, harmony is one of its greatest attributes.
Along with the harmonious adagio, I feel a deeper craving for harmony in other forms, especially social harmony. As we’re all aware, there is an alarming amount of social discord lately. This discord does not bode well for our nations nor the world at large. There is an ever-increasing desire around the world for the cultivation of fairness, peace, and harmony.
Perhaps my love of the adagio is an expression of my own strong wishes that the discord of current events be toned down and become balanced with more harmonious relations among all the inhabitants on Earth. Instead of tearing people down, we need to engage in constructive acts and conversations.
It seems that harmony is an essential ingredient of happiness and joy. As far back as pre-history, pleasant design and art have expressed the human love of harmony. The most appealing artifacts express harmony between form and function. As a species, we gravitate towards pleasing things and experiences. Why are they pleasing? I think things are pleasing because they harmonize with our deepest nature.
“He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the Universe.”–Marcus Aurelius
It has long been observed that people who create great things or people who enjoy healthy interpersonal relationships are people who cultivate harmony within themselves. This personal harmony is what makes these people so pleasant to know. After all harmony in life is all about proportion, equilibrium and balance. A major reason that people love music is because it is basically rhythm, melody, and harmony. Music is an artful way to describe life in its many forms. Music is appealing to people in all walks of life.
A true renaissance man of the Renaissance period, Leon Battista Alberti wrote, “Beauty: the adjustment of all parts proportionately so that one cannot add or subtract or change without impairing the harmony of the whole.” His familiarity with harmony was evident in his skills as an author, poet, linguist, architect, artist, cryptographer, priest, and philosopher.
Although few of us can express ourselves well in so many fields, we all have one or two talents that we can develop well. When we become proficient in a field, we feel and act in harmony with ourselves. After all, what is a happy life aside from the harmony between a person and her/his life?
Here is a link to the adagio to copy and paste to your browser: https://youtu.be/kn1gcjuhlhg
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes the ancient Roman historian, politician Gaius Sallustius Crispus. “Harmony makes small things grow, lack of it makes great things decay.”