“This is a wonderful examination of the effects of an artistic artifact on culture and, conversely, the various uses (undreamt of by the composer) to which the music has been put by others. It is also a personal testament to the power of a cultural artifact on an individual. Highly recommended.” (Library Journal)
“If Aaron Copland was the Updike of American music, then Samuel Barber was its Cheever. Larson provides a rich biographical context for Barber’s fervid creativity.” (The New Yorker)
“Written with great compassion and earnestness. An intimate history of this great work of music. it is the soundtrack of the soul.” (Phyllis Nordstrom - Classical Voice of New England)
“Rarely, if ever, have nine minutes of music been subjected to such intense cultural, historical, and emotional analysis.” (Eugene Drucker, violinist, The Emerson String Quartet)
“An exploration of a fascinating composer, a case study in the cultural appropriation of works of art, and a very personal meditation on the power of music.” (Kevin Bazzana, author of Lost Genius)
About the Author
Journalist, critic, and memoirist, Thomas Larson is the author of three books: The Sanctuary of Illness: A Memoir of Heart Disease, The Saddest Music Ever Written: The Story of Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings," and The Memoir and the Memoirist: Reading and Writing Personal Narrative. As a staff writer for the San Diego Reader, he has written more than 50 feature-length cover stories. He teaches in the MFA Program at Ashland University, Ashland, Ohio, and is the Book Review editor for River Teeth. He holds workshops and lectures on memoir writing, American music, and heart disease throughout the United States. His website is thomaslarson.com.