Adagio was written during a stay at the composer's boyhood
home in Minnesota. It was begun just days after the
death of his mother,
and is intended as a living, loving memorial to her.
The first half of the work is grounded
on the medieval Latin hymn, Dies
Irae (Day of Wrath). This hymn tune has often been
used by composers
(most notably Rachmaninoff and Berlioz) to represent
images of death.
The second half
of the work utilizes the Lutheran hymn tune, "Built on
a Rock the Church Doth Stand." This hymn was especially
loved by the