The DJ Tiesto mix of Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings was playing at Tower Records in Mountain View today. I also noticed more than the usual number of google searches on aworks for Adagio MP3s etc. My own Google Search found DJ Tiesto providing music for last night's Olympic opening ceremonies in Greece:
Tiesto from Amsterdam played about two hours of nonstop dance music as the world's athletes took their first steps onto the world's biggest stage. It was the first time a DJ has had such a role at the games.
Then, I found Twiddledee explicitly recognizing the piece and suggesting Adagio was too sad for the event. In any case, 800 million people (or whatever) were exposed to Adagio, albeit in au courant style i.e. more harsh and driving than the Ferry Corsten remix (via William Orbit), let alone a traditional orchestral, vocal, or string performance. I suppose this proves the universal appeal of the underlying music.
Yesterday I happened to be reading Lawrence Kramer's Musical Meaning: Toward a Critical History where he says that the Adagio from Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata is at present morphing from an implication of romantic fervor to a relaxing, tranquil usage:
...In the context of the default musics of the present day, it may be that classical music is "relaxing" for the simple reason that it has no rhythm track; its pulse is always already idealized. In this context the arpeggios that thread the Adagio take on a new significance, dispersing the rhythmic impulse into an undulation perceived as more languid than insistent; more berceuse- than serenade-like...
Going in the opposite direction, Barber's Adagio, through dance remixes, is taking on rhythm to make it more insistent (and more popular). Hmm.
One Amazon note: the Tiesto CD was, based on customer purchases, the "#12 Early Adopter Product in Dance & DJ." How about an equivalent Amazon feature for american classical music?
Update: The Paralympics Closing Ceremony in Athens also used Barber's Adagio:
Low and somber, it gradually built up to a crescendo.