“Adagio for Violin and Piano” by Kathryn Louderback

This week I want to share with you my piece Adagio for Violin and Piano.

I actually wrote this piece in March, 2016 as the final project for my composition class at OSU. My friend Jayanthi Joseph was willing to play the violin for me for the performance in class and in the video above, and she rocked it!


Let’s rewind a little. January in said composition class, we were given a music analysis assignment: find a piece of music and analyze it. (A little vague, I know.) I chose a work called Adagio for Strings by 20th century American composer Samuel Barber. This piece is famous for being absolutely heartbreaking. Premiered in 1938, it’s one of the most well-known pieces of music today. Read more about it here.

So I did a harmonic analysis of the work; I figured out the harmonic function of each chord, and I made a presentation on it. It was fun and interesting to be so picky with a piece and because it’s pretty heavy duty music theory, I’m going to save the analysis for another post. It’s enough to say for now that Adagio for Strings is generally in B-flat minor and ends in F major.

Some time passed and I used the harmonic analysis from the Barber Adagio to write a piece for flute and marimba. It was just a “for fun to experiment” type of piece for class (I may or may not have used all parallel 5ths in the accompaniment…), and afterwords my professor suggested I take the Adagio harmonies (B-flat minor and F major) I explored in the flute and marimba piece and expand that for my final project. And then I thought that I might as well make it a flute and piano piece because I play the piano, and then I thought that it would be really fun to write it for violin because Jayanthi is an awesome violinist. Thus resulted in Adagio for Violin and Piano. And yes, the name is a play on Barber’s piece.

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