Ostin Allegro's   Pop meets the Classics  Ostin Allegro

Looking at UK hit pop songs and instrumentals that (allegedly!) draw on classical music


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This is the main index page. It is organised by the year the single first entered the UK chart.

The alphabetical index has the songs in order of title and in order of classical composer.

Odds and Ends - the other side of the coin - Classics Based on Pop

What's in and what's out explains what has been included in these lists and what has not.

Contact Ostin lets you e-mail or send a message to this site.

News and Views - What's New, Quiz, Useful Links.

Any Answers - Is it or isn't it based on classical music.  Can you help?

 

Before November 1952 there was no official UK chart. For some earlier songs based on or borrowing from the classics, take a look at this page...

50s

Pop Title and Artist

Composer and Work

Comments

1955

Stranger in Paradise

Tony Bennett

Listen to mp3 sample...

Borodin - Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor

Listen to mp3 sample...

This song was a hit for no fewer than 6 different artists in 1955. Tony Bennett's version was the biggest hit - getting to No. 1. The other artists were Bing Crosby (17), Don Cornell (19), Eddie Calvert (14), Four Aces (6) and Tony Martin (6). This, and other music by Borodin, was adapted to create the musical Kismet.

1956

Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom)

Perry Como

Listen to mp3 sample...

Chabrier - Espana Rhapsody

Listen to mp3 sample...

Uses a melody adapted from the classical piece.  Como got it to No. 4 in the UK charts. It was also a hit for Michael Holliday (13) and The Stargazers (28) in the same year.

1956

My Prayer

The Platters

Listen to mp3 sample...

G Boulanger - Avant de Mourir

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

Was a UK No. 4 and US No. 1. Avant de Mourir was a melody written in 1926 and was the composer's Opus 17. The song became a hit in 1970 for Gerry Monroe. Originally recorded by Glenn Miller in 1939.

1958

Catch a Falling Star

Perry Como

Listen to mp3 sample...

Brahms - Academic Festival Overture

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

The song uses one of the themes from this overture. Brahms, in turn, had used tunes based on student drinking songs. The one in question here is "Was kommt dort von der Höh".

1959

Alone at Last

Jackie Wilson

Listen to mp3 sample...

Tchaikovsky - Piano Concert No 1

Listen to mp3 sample...

This song uses the main theme from the first movement of this concerto.

1959

The World Outside

The Four Aces

Listen to mp3 sample...

Ronnie Hilton

Listen to mp3 sample...

Addinsell - Warsaw Concerto

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

The concerto was originally written for the soundtrack of the 1940 film Dangerous Moonlight, and was so popular that it became a hit in its own right. The Four Aces and Ronnie Hilton both got this song to No. 18 in the chart. It was also an instrumental hit for pianist Russ Conway in the same year.

60s

Pop Title and Artist

Composer and Work

Comments

1960

It's Now or Never

Elvis Presley

Listen to mp3 sample...

di Capua - O Solo Mio

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

Was a hit previously for other artists (e.g. Mario Lanza) but Elvis' version got to No. 1, sold millions and was an international success.

More...

1961

Asia Minor

Kokomo, his Piano and Orchestra

Listen to mp3 sample...

Grieg - Piano Concerto in A minor

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

Instrumental. Kokomo recorded a number of pop instrumentals based on classical pieces. This was the only UK hit, and is based on the main theme from the 1st movement.

1961

Entry of The Gladiators

Nero and The Gladiators

Listen to mp3 sample...

Fucik - March "Entry of the Gladiators"

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

Instrumental. A guitar version of this classic "circus" piece. See also the entry below for James Darren. For more about Nero, go here...

1961

Goodbye Cruel World

James Darren

Listen to mp3 sample...

Fucik - March "Entry of the Gladiators"

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

This song uses an excerpt form Fucik's famous "circus" March to great effect as a little countermelody. (See also Palisades Park - 1962)

1961

In the Hall of the Mountain King

Nero and the Gladiators

Listen to mp3 sample...

Grieg - Peer Gynt Suite No 1

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Instrumental. A version of "In the hall of the Mountain King", the 4th movement of the 1st suite, and the second hit this year for Nero and his band.

1961

Piltdown Rides Again

Piltdown Men

Listen to mp3 sample...

Rossini - Overture "William Tell"

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

Instrumental. One of a number of hits for this US group. The Overture was well known at the time as the source of the theme music to the children's TV series "The Lone Ranger".

More on The Piltdown Men...

1961

Romeo

Petula Clark

Listen to mp3 sample...

Stolz - Salome

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Petula Clark got to No 3 in the UK with her rendition of Salome, a vocal fox-trot from 1919 by the Austrian composer Robert Stolz.

1961

Wooden Heart

Elvis Presley

Listen to mp3 sample...

Silcher - Muß i' denn zum Städtele hinaus

Listen to mp3 sample...

Friedrich Silcher (1789-1860) is often credited with having written the melody in 1827. The melody is usually referred to as a German folk tune, so it is not clear whether Silcher wrote it, or merely collected (or edited) it at some point.

1962

Baubles, Bangles and Beads

George Shearing

Listen to mp3 sample...

Borodin - String Quartet No. 2 in D

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

This song was taken from the Scherzo of the quartet and was another that featured in the musical Kismet.

1962

Can Can 62

Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers

Listen to mp3 sample...

Offenbach - Orpheus in the Underworld

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

Instrumental. Typical early sixties rock version of the dance from Offenbach's operetta.

1962

Can't Help Falling in Love

Elvis Presley

Listen to mp3 sample...

Martini - Plaisir d'Amour

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

The song by Martini, slightly adapted, was a No. 1 for Elvis this year, and was also a hit for Andy Williams (1970), Stylistics (1976), Lick the Tins (1986) and UB40 (1993). All of these being rather different takes on the same tune.

1962

Like I Do

Maureen Evans

Listen to mp3 sample...

Ponchielli - Dance of the Hours

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

Got to No 3 with this song using the same familiar tune as Alan Sherman's "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah" in 1963.

1962

Nut Rocker

B Bumble and the Stingers

Listen to mp3 sample...

Tchaikovsky - Nutcracker Suite (March)

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

Instrumental. Probably my earliest memory of a classical piece given the pop treatment. Very tongue-in-cheek and great fun. Got to No. 1 in May.

1962

Palisades Park

Freddie Cannon

Listen to mp3 sample...

Fucik - March "Entry of the Gladiators"

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

Another borrowing of Fucik's famous "circus" march as a countermelody. (See also Goodbye Cruel World -1961)

1962

Peter and the Wolf

Clyde Valley Stompers

Listen to mp3 sample...

Prokofiev - Peter and the Wolf

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

Instrumental. A trad jazz adaptation of the main theme from Prokofiev's music for the traditional children's story. The original tune was, at the time, well known as the theme music for the Granada TV children's program "Zoo Time".

1963

Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah

Allan Sherman

Listen to mp3 sample...

Ponchielli - Dance of the Hours

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

A classic humorous song, A Letter from Camp, based on a melody from the Opera "La Gioconda". Also used in "Like I Do" in 1962!

1963

Rondo

Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen

Listen to mp3 sample...

Mozart - Rondo "alla Turca"

Listen to midi file...

 

Instrumental. Got to No. 24 with this trad jazz version of the Rondo (3rd movement) from Mozart's Piano Sonata No 11 in A.

1963

Saturday Nite at the Duck-Pond

The Cougars

Listen to mp3 sample...

Tchaikovsky - Swan Lake (Scene)

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

Instrumental. The Cougars' love of Tchaikovsky expressed in this homage to one of his well known pieces. See also The Cats (1969)

1964

So Deep is the Night

Ken Dodd

Listen to mp3 sample...

Chopin - Etude in E

More...

Listen to midi file...

 

Ken had a number of hits back in the 60s. This is a beautiful tune and one of my favourites.

1964

The Wedding

Julie Rogers

Listen to mp3 sample...

Schubert - Ave Maria

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

This is a tenuous connection. The "Ave Maria" line from this song is lifted straight from Schubert. The rest of the song can, at best, be said to have a mere hint of the original.

1965

Lovers Concerto

The Toys

Listen to mp3 sample...

JS Bach - Minuet in G

More...

Listen to midi file...

 

This song took the theme from Bach's minuet and changed the timing a bit!  The result was a very catchy pop song. Love it or hate it! The follow-up to this one, a minor hit, also used a classical borrowing. See 1966.

1965

Tears

Ken Dodd

Listen to mp3 sample

Saint-Saens - Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix

Listen to mp3 sample

A more speculative borrowing. The melody for Tears is strikingly similar to part of this song from the opera Samson and Delila. It might be pure coincidence, but when we see how many of Ken's hits use classical themes, the balance of probability swings the other way.

1965

The Carnival is Over

The Seekers

Listen to mp3 sample...

Berlioz - Overture "Les Francs-Juges"

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

anon - Russian folk tune "Stenka Razin"

Listen to mp3 sample...

The melody for this song appears (somewhat adapted!) in the overture of this early Berlioz opera.  However, the tune was originally the Russian folk song Stenka Razin. See http://poparchives.com.au/feature.php?id=522 for more info.

Got to No. 1 in the chart in November.

1965

You're Breaking My Heart

Keely Smith

Listen to mp3 sample...

Leoncavallo - Mattinata

Listen to mp3 sample

This got to 14 in the charts and is a "modernised" version of a song written in 1903-4 to be recorded by the famous tenor Enrico Caruso.  Leoncavallo is probably best known for his opera "Pagliacci" (1892). An earlier version of You're Breaking My Heart, sung by Vic Damone, was very popular in the late 40s. It has been sung by many others. The mp3 sample of Mattinata is sung by Andrea Bocelli.

1966

A Groovy Kind of Love

The Mindbenders

Listen to mp3 sample...

Clementi - Rondo from Sonatina in G

More...

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

This song was also a hit for Phil Collins in 1988 and Les Gray in 1977. It uses the theme from the 3rd movement of the Sonatina in G Opus 36 No 5.

1966

Attack

The Toys

Listen to mp3 sample...

Tchaikovsky - Nutcracker Suite (March)

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

This follow up to the famous "Lovers Concerto" was a minor hit - getting to number 36 this year. Unlike the first hit, the borrowing is just an instrumental break at the start. The tune itself seems not to borrow from anywhere and is not very memorable.

1966

More Than Love

Ken Dodd

Listen to mp3 sample...

Beethoven - Pathetique Sonata

Listen to midi file...

Another ballad sung by Liverpool comedian Ken Dodd. This time using the theme from the slow movement of a Beethoven Piano Sonata.

1966

Tchaikovsky One

Second City Sound

Listen to mp3 sample...

Tchaikovsky - Piano Concerto No. 1

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

Instrumental. A fairly standard pop version of the famous theme from the beginning of the 1st movement.

1967

A Whiter Shade of Pale

Procol Harum

More...

More...  (BBC Radio 2 Top 100)

Listen to mp3 sample...

JS Bach - "Air" from Orchestral Suite in D

Listen to mp3 sample...

JS Bach - "Wachet Auf" from Cantata No. 140

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

More on "Air on the G String"...

The band always denied that this song was directly based on Bach's Air. It's just the first few notes of the organ introduction which resemble the Bach Air. Otherwise the connection is, for me, rather slight. In fact, the organ part owes more to the countermelody Bach wrote to the tune "Wachet Auf" in Cantata No 140. See what you think. Listen to the two mp3 samples and decide for yourself.

1967

Emerald City

The Seekers

Listen to mp3 sample...

Beethoven - Symphony No. 9

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

The Seekers used the famous "Ode to Joy" theme from the final movement of this symphony. The same tune was used by Miguel Rios in his "Song of Joy" in 1970. However it's quite possible that Beethoven borrowed his tune from Mozart's Misericordias Domini.

Listen to mp3 of Mozart's tune...

1967

Night of Fear

The Move

Listen to mp3 sample...

Tchaikovsky - Overture "1812"

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

The Move borrowed some ideas from this well known overture and in so doing got their first UK hit.

1968

America

The Nice

Listen to mp3 sample...

Bernstein - America from West Side Story

Listen to mp3 sample...

Instrumental. A straight rock version of the Bernstein piece demonstrating the keyboard talents of Keith Emerson. The introduction to this track also includes a little of Dvorak's "New World" Symphony. (Allegedly!)

1968

Please Don't Go

Donald Peers

Listen to mp3 sample...

Offenbach - Barcarolle from Tales of Hoffmann

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

Peers was almost 60 when he got to No. 3 in the charts with this song.

1968

Rain and Tears

Aphrodite's Child

Listen to mp3 sample...

Pachelbel - Canon in D

More...

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

This band from Greece had, as two if its members, Demis Roussos and Vangelis. Both of whom became famous as solo artists. There are many pop songs which seem to be based on this piece. This one works well, in my opinion.

1968

Sabre Dance

Love Sculpture

Listen to mp3 sample...

Khachaturian - Sabre Dance from Gayaneh Ballet

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

Instrumental. A totally manic version of the classical piece in typical late sixties "heavy metal" style.

1968

She Wears my Ring

Solomon King

Listen to mp3 sample...

Sarradell - La Golondrina

Listen to mp3 sample...

The original song is about a swallow and has been recorded by, among others, Placido Domingo. (Heard singing here on the sample)

1968

Smokey Blues Away

New Generation

Listen to mp3 sample...

Dvorak - Symphony No 9 "From the New World"

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

The well-known theme from the slow movement - also used in the Hovis adverts! For music used in commercials - go here..

1969

Dream of Olwen

Second City Sound

Listen to mp3 sample...

C Williams - The Dream of Olwen

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

Instrumental. Dream of Olwen was another one of those movie piano concertos from the 40s, in the same vein as Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto.  It was written in 1947 for the movie 'While I Live'.

1969

Swan Lake

The Cats

Listen to mp3 sample...

Tchaikowsky - Swan Lake

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

Instrumental. This reggae version of the well known scene from Tchaikovsky's ballet got to number 48 in the chart. See also The Cougars (1963)

70s

Pop Title and Artist

Composer and Work

Comments

1970

Can't Help Falling in Love

Andy Williams

Listen to mp3 sample...

Martini - Plaisir d'Amour

Listen to mp3 sample...

The song by Martini, slightly adapted, was a hit for Elvis in 1962, for UB40 in 1993, The Stylistics in 1976 and Lick the Tins in 1986.

1970

Elizabethan Reggae

Boris Gardiner

Listen to mp3 sample...

Ronald Binge - Elizabethan Serenade

Listen to mp3 sample...

Binge wrote his piece in 1951. I wouldn't be surprised if there was just a hint of Beethoven's "Pastoral" Symphony in there somewhere.

For more information about Binge, see here...

1970

My Prayer

Gerry Monroe

Listen to mp3 sample...

G Boulanger - Avant de Mourir

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

Originally recorded by Glenn Miller in 1939. Had been a hit for The Platters in 1956 and was also recorded by The Ink Spots.

1970

Song of Joy

Miguel Rios

Listen to mp3 sample...

Beethoven - Symphony No. 9

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

As with The Seekers in 1967, Rios used the famous theme from the final movement of this symphony. But did Beethoven borrow the tune from Mozart? Listen to Misericordias Domini by Mozart...

1971

I Think of You

Perry Como

Listen to mp3 sample...

Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto No. 2

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

The song uses a theme from the 1st movement of the concerto.

1971

Mozart 40

Waldo de los Rios / Sovereign Collection

Listen to mp3 sample...

Mozart - Symphony No. 40

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

Instrumental. There were two versions of this in the charts in April 1971. The title of the Waldo de los Rios version was Mozart Symphony No. 40 in G minor K550 1st movement (Allegro Molto). It doesn't quite roll off the tongue, does it!

1972

Song Sung Blue

Neil Diamond

Listen to mp3 sample...

Mozart - Piano Concerto No 21

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

The first theme of the second movement of this concerto provided Neil Diamond with the inspiration (and the material) to write this song. This concerto also featured in the soundtrack of the film "Elvira Madigan".

1973

Gaudete

Steeleye Span

Listen to mp3 sample...

Anon (1582) - Gaudete Christus est Natus

Listen to mp3 sample...

The song comes originally from a 1582 collection called Piae Cantiones. The title is in Latin and means "Rejoice, Christ is born". I thought I'd include this version here even though it was sung fairly "straight" by Steeleye Span. It got to No 14 in December.

1973

Joybringer

Manfred Mann's Earth Band

Listen to mp3 sample...

Holst - Jupiter from The Planets

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

An intelligent (in my view) adaptation of parts of this movement from The Planets, using not so much the "famous" theme for the vocals, but reworking other material.

1973

Roll Over Beethoven

Electric Light Orchestra

Listen to mp3 sample...

Beethoven - Symphony No. 5

Listen to mp3 sample...

ELO quotes the famous theme from the 1st movement of this symphony in this unusual remake of the rock and roll classic.

1973

2001 (Also Sprach Zarathustra)

Deodato

Listen to mp3 sample...

R Strauss - Also Sprach Zarathustra

Listen to mp3 sample...

Instrumental. A rather awful pop rendition of the opening part (Sunrise) of the Strauss work. The original was used very effectively in the wonderful film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Official film site.

1974

Annie's Song

John Denver

Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 5 The lovely tune used in this song is also to be found in the 2nd movement of this symphony by Tchaikowsky. John Denver's song reached No. 1 in the charts in August of this year.

1974

Beach Baby

First Class

Listen to mp3 sample...

Sibelius - Symphony No 5

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

The longer version of this single quotes the brass fanfares from the final movement of the symphony. The song is a tribute to The Beach Boys and is one of many hits featuring the voice of session singer Tony Burrows. A full version of the song can be found on this link.

1974

Minuetto Allegretto

The Wombles

Listen to mp3 sample...

Mozart - Symphony No. 41

Listen to mp3 sample...

A rather charming song, extensively using the minuet from this symphony as its basis. Who were The Wombles, you ask? Click the link to find out.

1975

I Believe in Father Christmas

Greg Lake

Listen to mp3 sample...

Prokofiev - Troika from Lt. Kije Suite

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

Was also a minor hit in 1982 and 1983. Lake used the famous "sleigh ride" theme as an instrumental break in this much loved Christmas single.

1975

In Dulci Jubilo

Mike Oldfield

Listen to mp3 sample...

Anon - German hymn tune

Listen to mp3 sample...

Instrumental. The tune used here was known from the year 1570, though is probably older. It has been used by later composers such as JS Bach, but here got to No. 4 in the charts in a pop version by the man who had previously composed "Tubular Bells".

1976

A Fifth of Beethoven

Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band

Listen to mp3 sample...

Beethoven - Symphony No. 5

Listen to mp3 sample...

Instrumental. A typical seventies disco version of the first movement of this symphony.

1976

All By Myself

Eric Carmen

Listen to mp3 sample...

Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto No. 2

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

Carmen very cleverly used the main theme from the 2nd movement for the vocal line, to create a powerful song. He also added piano instrumentals derived from the same movement. The song was also a hit (getting to No. 6) for Celine Dion in 1996.

1976

Could it be Magic

Donna Summer

Listen to mp3 sample...

Chopin - Prelude in C minor (Opus 28/20)

Listen to midi file...

A disco version of a Barry Manilow song. The song was susequently a hit for Manilow in 1978.

1976

Never Gonna Fall in Love Again

Dana

See comments (right) for mp3 sample

Rachmaninov - Symphony No. 2

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

This song, written by Eric Carmen (see "All by Myself", above), was based on the main theme from the 3rd movement of this symphony. Although Carmen recorded this song, it was, surprisingly, not a UK hit for him. Eurovision winner Dana got it to No 31 in the chart.

Listen to a sample of Carmen's version...

1976

Rodrigo's Guitar Concerto de Aranjuez

Manuel and his Music of the Mountains

Listen to mp3 sample...

Rodrigo - Guitar Concerto de Aranjuez

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

Instrumental. This single popularised this guitar concerto beyond all belief. It used the theme from the second movement.

1976

Can't Help Falling in Love

Stylistics

Martini - Plaisir d'Amour

Listen to mp3 sample...

Martini's song was also a hit for Elvis in 1962, UB40 in 1993 Andy Williams in 1970 and Lick the Tins in1986.

1977

Fanfare for the Common Man

Emerson Lake and Palmer

Listen to mp3 sample...

Copland - Fanfare for the Common Man

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

Instrumental. An up tempo rock version of this classical piece. ELP were responsible for many rock versions of the classics but this was their only UK hit single.

1977

A Groovy Kind of Love

Les Gray

Clementi - Rondo from Sonatina in G

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

See also 1966 entry for The Mindbenders. Les Gray was lead singer with the band Mud.

1977

Rockaria

Electric Light Orchestra

Listen to mp3 sample...

Puccini - "Un Bel Di" from Madam Butterfly

Also known as "One fine day"

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

This song quotes from the famous aria from Puccini's opera. The same aria was used by Malcolm McLaren in 1984. You will hear the beginning of the quote from Puccini right at the end of the Rockaria sample.

1978

Could it be Magic

Barry Manilow

Listen to mp3 sample...

Chopin - Prelude in C minor

Listen to midi file...

 

This song, written by Manilow, is an interesting reworking of Chopin's music and was a hit for him again (re-recorded) in 1993. It also became a hit for Take That in 1992, and had been a hit for Donna Summer in 1976.

1978

If I had Words

Scott Fitzgerald and Yvonne Keeley

Listen to mp3 sample...

Saint-Saens - Symphony No. 3 "Organ"

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

This song very effectively takes the main theme tune from the final movement of the symphony. Made famous, of course, in the film Babe.

1979

He was beautiful

Iris Williams

See comments (right) for mp3 sample

Myers - Cavatina

Listen to mp3 sample...

A song using words added (by Cleo Laine) to a guitar piece that was a hit in the same year for John Williams. The guitar piece Cavatina was famously used in the film "The Deer Hunter". The song has been recorded by Cleo Laine and, in the mp3 sample, by Shirley Bassey. Listen to mp3 sample..

1979

If I had You

Korgis

Listen to mp3 sample...

Rachmaninov - Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

The chorus of this song, which got to 13 in the chart, is based on Variation 18 of the piece by Rachmaninov who, in turn, based his variations on Caprice No 24 in A minor by Paganini. The Paganini Caprice is also  well-known as the tune used by Andrew Lloyd-Webber in his composition "Variations", and which is used as the theme music for The South Bank Show.

1979

Lady Lynda

Beach Boys

Listen to mp3 sample...

JS Bach - Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring

More...

Listen to short midi sample...

 

This song quotes directly from Bach's music and uses the same chord progression.

80s

Pop Title and Artist

Composer and Work

Comments

1980

Toccata

Sky

Listen to mp3 sample...

JS Bach - Toccata and Fugue in D minor

Listen to mp3 sample...

 

Instrumental. Sky included well-known classical guitarist John Williams. They did a lot of pop interpretations of classical pieces back in the 80s but this was their only UK hit single.

1981

Can Can

Bad Manners

Listen to mp3 sample...

Offenbach - Orpheus in the Underworld

Listen to mp3 sample...

A completely crazy version of the Can-Can music from Offenbach's operetta. The Can Can music was also used by Jive Bunny in their 1990 hit "Can Can You Party". The pop sample is a live version.

1981

Hooked on Classics

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Listen to mp3 sample...

Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Gershwin, Sibelius, Beethoven, Bach, Rossini, Clarke, Handel, Grieg, Bizet, Rimsky-Korsakov

Instrumental. A medley of classical pieces with a disco beat! Included were: Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No 1, Grieg's Piano Concerto, Bizet's Carmen Suite and many others; some of which already feature on this site in other disguises!

1981

The Sheffield Grinder / Capstick Comes Home

Tony Capstick

Listen to mp3 sample...

Dvorak - Symphony No 9 "From the New World"

Listen to mp3 sample...

A spoken track, with the comic story told over the theme from the 2nd movement (played by a brass band) as used in the Hovis adverts! For music used in adverts visit "Song of the Salesman"

1983

Midnight Blue

Louise Tucker

Listen to mp3 sample...

Beethoven - "Pathetique" Sonata

Listen to midi file...

 

Another song using the theme from the 2nd movement of this piano sonata. See also Ken Dodd's "More Than Love" 1966.

1983

Past Present and Future

Cindy and the Saffrons

See comments (right) for mp3 sample

Beethoven - "Moonlight" Sonata

Listen to midi file...

 

A cover of an old 1960s Shangri-Las song. This "spoken" song has a piano accompaniment that is loosely based on the 1st movement of the famous sonata, and got to number 56 in the charts.

Listen to mp3 sample of Shangri-Las version...

1983

Uptown Girl

Billy Joel

Listen to mp3 sample

Ravel - Bolero

* Listen to mp3 sample

There is a striking similarity between the opening of Joel's tune for this No 1 Hit, and the start of Ravel's famous tune. In view of the fact that Billy Joel frequently used the classics for inspiration, this bit of "borrowing" appears here on the balance of probability. * The mp3 excerpt is an electronic rendition of Bolero by Isao Tomita.

1984

It's a Hard Life

Queen

Leoncavallo - Pagliacci Queen got to number 6 in the charts with this song, which seems to borrow its first few bars from the famous aria "Vesti La Giubba" from Leoncavallo's opera about the tears of a clown.

1984

Madam Butterfly

Malcolm McLaren

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Puccini - "Un Bel Di" from Madam Butterfly

Also known as "One fine day"

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McLaren believed at the time that songs like this, where he used "sampled" extracts of opera mixed in with rock elements, was the future of  pop. Maybe he had a point......? He tried again to incorporate classical music into pop (but with less success) with hits in 1989 and 1990.

1984

Since Yesterday

Strawberry Switchblade

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Sibelius - Symphony No. 5

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The brass fanfares at the start of this song are derived from the 3rd movement of the symphony. The vocal line at the start of the verse is clearly influenced by the main theme from this movement.

1985

Russians

Sting

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Prokofiev - Romance from Lt. Kije Suite

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The mournful tune that Sting uses for the instrumental breaks in this song appears in this suite by Prokofiev.

1986

Can't Help Falling in Love

Lick the Tins

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Martini - Plaisir d'Amour

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Also a hit for Elvis in 1962, Andy Williams in 1979, Stylistics in 1976 and UB40 in 1993.

1988

A Groovy Kind of Love

Phil Collins

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Clementi - Rondo from Sonatina in G

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Phil Collins got the song to No. 1 in the chart in September of this year. See also 1966 entry for The Mindbenders.

1989

Albinoni vs Star Wars

Sigue Sigue Sputnik

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Albinoni - Adagio in G minor

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The famous Adagio by Tommaso Albinoni (1671-1751) is really by the 20th century musicologist Remo Giazzotto, who based his composition on fragments found in an Albinoni manuscript.

1989

House of The Blue Danube

Malcom McLaren

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Johann Strauss - An die schönen blauen Donau

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This track got to 73 in the chart and quotes extensively from the famous "Blue Danube" Waltz by Johann Strauss (2nd). The classical sample features the well-known main theme of the waltz.

1989

Waltz Darling

Malcom McLaren

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Tchaikovsky - Waltz of the Flowers

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McLaren quotes a short extract of this waltz from The Nutcracker Suite about 2 minutes into the track. (About 20 seconds into the mp3 sample)

90s

Pop Title and Artist

Composer and Work

Comments

1990

All Together Now

The Farm

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Pachelbel - Canon in D

More...

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One of many songs that have used this piece. A hit again in 2004 as the theme tune to the Euro 2004 Football Tournament.

1990

Operaa House

World's Famous Supreme Team

Delibes - "Flower Duet" from Lakme

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A Malcom McLaren creation which got to number 75 in the chart. See also 1984 - Madam Butterfly and 1989 - House of The Blue Danube and Waltz Darling.

1991

World in Union

Kiri Te Kanawa

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Holst - Jupiter from The Planets

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This anthem for the Rugby World Cup uses the "big tune" from the middle section of Jupiter from Holst's famous Planets Suite. The tune is also known as "I vow to thee my country". It was also a hit for Shirley Bassey in 1999.

1992

Could it be Magic

Take That

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Chopin - Prelude in C minor

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A Barry Manilow song, originally a hit for Donna Summer in 1976 and for Manilow himself in 1978.

1993

(I Can't Help) Falling in Love with You

UB40

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Martini - Plaisir d'Amour

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The song by Martini, slightly adapted, was a hit for Elvis in 1962, Andy Williams in 1970 The Stylistics in 1976 and Lick the Tins in 1986. This version got to No 1. in the chart in June this year.

1994

The Real Thing

2 Unlimited

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JS Bach - Toccata and Fugue in D minor

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This song features a sample from this work by Bach.

1995

Never Forget

Take That

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Verdi - Requiem

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The introduction to this No. 1 hit song is a small snippet from the brass fanfares that appear at the start of the Tuba Mirum in Verdi's Messa da Requiem.

1996

All by Myself

Celine Dion

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Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto No. 2

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Written by Eric Carmen and originally a hit for him in 1976.

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1997

C U when U get there

Coolio

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Pachelbel - Canon in D

More...

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From the film "Nothing to Lose".

1997

I'll be Missing You

Puff Daddy

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Barber - Agnus Dei

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This choral piece is heard in the background during this song. The Agnus Dei is a vocal version of Barber's own "Adagio for Strings" - used by William Orbit in 1999. The song reached No. 1 in July.

1997

Tubthumping

Chumbawamba

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Clarke - Trumpet Voluntary

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The trumpet tune (sometimes wrongly attributed to Purcell) can be heard at the end of this song.

1998

Everything's Gonna be Alright

Sweetbox

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JS Bach - "Air" from Orchestral Suite in D

Also known as Air on (for) the G String

More...

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Featured in the Lancome Oui! TV commercial.

For music used in adverts visit "Song of the Salesman"

1998

Prince Igor

Warren G

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Borodin - Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor

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Price Igor is a rather lengthy opera, from which the Polovtsian Dances are the most frequently performed section. This single uses the same tune as Stranger in Paradise (1955)

1999

Barber's Adagio for Strings

William Orbit

Barber - Adagio for Strings

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Instrumental. Orbit also made an album called Pieces in a Modern Style, where he included a "straight" version of the Barber Adagio. This hit single version was somewhat different!

1999

Hate Me Now

Puff Daddy

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Orff - Carmina Burana (O Fortuna)

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Orff's Carmina Burana is very popular today. The 1st movement, O Fortuna, has been used in a number of film soundtracks. (But, surprisingly, not in The Omen.)

00s

Pop Title and Artist

Composer and Work

Comments

2000

Natural

S Club 7

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Fauré - Pavane

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This song uses the beautiful melody from Fauré's Pavane Opus 50. The Pavane was originally a choral work but is now more frequently heard as a purely instrumental piece.

2001

Janet Jackson

Someone to call my Lover

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Satie - Gymnopedie Number 1

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This song features the melody from Erik Satie's piano piece. There are 3 Gymnopedies in total.

2003

I Can

Nas

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Beethoven - "Für Elise"

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This song uses Beethoven's well-known tune, the correct title of which is Bagatelle in A minor. It was a piano piece allegedly dedicated to a lady called Elise. However, it has been suggested that Beethoven actually wrote "Für Therese" on the manuscript but it was misread by the publisher.

2004

All Together Now 2004

The Farm ft S.F.X Boys Choir

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Pachelbel - Canon in D

More...

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Originally a hit in 1990 for The Farm. This version was used as a theme for the Euro 2004 Soccer Tournament.

2005

They

Jem

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JS BachPrelude in F minor

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Prelude No 12 in F minor from the Second Book of 24 Preludes and Fugues. A vocal version of this prelude was also recorded by The Swingle Singers. This vocal treatment is used in Jem's single. A very attractive song which went straight in at No 6 in the chart in March this year.

2006

Welcome to The Black Parade

My Chemical Romance

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Pachelbel - Canon in D

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This No. 1 hit from 2006 is yet another song that seems to borrow the "famous" chord progression from Pachelbel's Canon. More...

Thanks to Prof. Friedman from Berklee for pointing this one out.

Many thanks to John Cooper, Peter and Kirk for their help in finding mp3 tracks.


You can buy CDs of most of the classical music tracks at

 

 


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