LISTEN TO THIS VERY LOUD, TURN UP THE VOLUME MUCH.
There are many sad, sorrowful, and tragic compositions out there, but this is the one that really gets to me. From the beginning to the end... the music describes itself. It is so powerful and the emotion just builds and builds to a giant climax. Every part of this composition is building block to a larger and more emotional block of brooding emotion. I first heard this back in 2007, and it has been my #1 tragic composition that hasn't been composed by me. Henryk Gorecki is my favorite for this genre of music.
Henryk Gorecki: I. Lento - Sostenuto tranquillo ma cantabile
Indeed Tragic! Elevating it to "most tragic" is a bit much. I can think of of few works that outweigh it in terms of tear duct activation.
1) Barber's Adagio for Stings / Agnus Dei
Sure it's overused these days but this work could cause tears played against the weather report or an SNL clip. If I remember right, Barber's contemporaries couldn't fathom where this piece came from. The simplicity of it's development is overwhelming. It grabs your soul in away that reduces the music theory text to a treaties on Mesopotamian plumbing.
2) Albinoni's Adagio in G minor
Powerful enough to define "tragic" as a genre. Admittedly it's almost over referenced to the point of parody; a toddler who dropped his ice cream cone. Then again, watching a 2.5 year old with a trembling lips well-up into tears over splattered ice cream is a real heart breaker.
3) John Williams Theme for Schindler's List
I'm sure much of it is due to the strong association with one of the darkest events of the twentieth century, but in all seriousness I have only been able to bring myself to listen to this piece a handful of times after seeing the film because I can't bear it.
4) Ravel's Pavane
Dead princess. 'nuff said.
5) Brahms' Tragic Overture
Tragic because Johannes Brahms says it is. So tragic he subtly named it "Tragic Overture" grant the listener the implication of the heart wrenching torment to follow.
I just don't know if it was just Brahms or the 19th century that a very different idea of "tragic."