Classical Funeral Music: Adagio in G minor

Have you ever attended a funeral where the music struck your soul? While funeral music choices often are selected by family members and chosen to suit the family members’ tastes, appropriate music can inspire and comfort guests as well as they celebrate a life passed and mourn that passing.

There’s nothing to stop you from planning your music for your own funeral. Some things to keep in mind when choosing funeral music include the venue for the funeral, whether you want a somber, religious or lighthearted mood and whether that music fits you personally. One reason to pick a venue for the funeral or memorial service first is possible restrictions on the type of music you can use. Some churces may not allow secular music within the church or within the service. In the latter case, you can use secular music before and after the service.

Classical music (which is considered secular in many venues) is one choice that many people lean toward, because instrumentals provide soothing background music. One example of a popular classical piece for funerals is included in the video above (just audio, no video for almost ten minutes). This piece is the Adagio in G minor by Albinoni, and Karajan conducts the Berlin Philharmonic for this piece.

Adagio in G minor for strings and organ continuo actually is a neo-baroque composition written by Remo Giazotto and first published in 1958. Supposedly, the piece was based upon a fragment of a second-movement continuo from a “Sonata in G Minor” by Tomaso Albinoni found among the Saxon State Library ruins in Dresden after it was firebombed by the Allies during World War II. However, according to Wikipedia, “since Giazotto’s death in 1998 it has emerged that the piece is all his composition, as no such fragment has been found or recorded to have been in possession by the Saxon State Library.”

While many people might think this piece is a time-honored classic, it actually is quite modern and has permeated popular culture after being used in movies such as The Trial and Gallipoli. Therefore, it has become a popular piece that underscores pain and tragedy, and – as such – has become a perfect musical background setting for many funerals.

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