What does a Chuck Berry classic, a 70’s disco gem, an 80’s New Wave #1 hit, and Robin Thicke’s first hit all have in common? They were all inspired by two of the greatest classical composers of all-time. Just like Michael Jackson in his prime, 300 years ago, the reigning “pop” star of his generation, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart changed classical music forever. The child prodigy’s imagination and grandeur influenced every composer to follow him. 100 years later, Ludwig von Beethoven worshipped Mozart’s work and took it as a challenge to create classical masterpieces to rival his hero.
“ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN” Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry’s 1956 Chess single helped define the early rock and roll era. His sister, Lucy, used to play classical piano in their home and Chuck wanted to inject a little rhythm and blues. Rolling Stone Magazine voted the song onto their Top 100 Songs of The Rock Era and described the record as “the ultimate rock and roll call to arms”. The song’s been covered countless times including The Beatles, Electric Light Orchestra, and The Rolling Stones.
“5TH OF BEETHOVEN” (Disco) Walter Murphy
“WHEN I GET YOU ALONE” Robin Thicke
You don’t usually link 70’s disco to classical music, but Walter Murphy took the melody of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and added an propulsive dance beat to the top of the pop charts in 1976. Walter Murphy actually wrote this song by accident. Originally attempting to create a commercial jingle with a modern twist on classical music, the song become a full-blown single set to Beethoven’s Symphony #5 in C. Minor. Most people know the song best from John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever. In the past decade, the song got recent exposure when Robin Thicke laid down vocals to the track in his upbeat pop hit, “When I Get You Alone”.
“ROCK ME AMADEUS” Falco
Love it or hate it, you can’t deny the worldwide popularity of Falco’s 1985 #1 hit. The song’s been abused by so many parodies, movie soundtracks, and commercials but it’s one of those records that defined the 80’s. Like the video demonstrates, the single combines references to the 1700’s but injects a 1980’s vibe into the mix. The iconic video flashes back and forth between a modern-day Falco jamming out with people in eighteenth-century formal wear and Mozart rocking out at a wild motorcycle party.