Ostin Allegro's   Pop meets the Classics  Ostin Allegro

Any Answers - Is it or isn't it?

Somewhere (from West Side Story by Bernstein/Sondheim). This beautiful song sounds like it borrows from two different sources - Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. To be more specific - Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 (2nd movement) and Tchaikovsky's ballet music from Swan Lake (The 2nd theme heard in this sample). The song was a hit in the UK for P.J. Proby in 1964 and for The Pet Shop Boys in 1997.

So the pop song borrows from Bernstein, and Bernstein borrows from Beethoven and Tchaikovsky?

The Birdie Song (The Tweets 1981) - bears a bizarre similarity to a theme from the 3rd movement of Concerto Grosso No. 1 in B flat by William Alwyn.

The original tune was written in the 1950s by a Swiss accordion player called Werner Thomas, and was well known in 1981 when a Dutch band, The Electronicas, decided to record it. They were beaten to the charts in the UK by a group of session musicians who took it to number 2.

William Alwyn wrote his Concerto Grosso in 1943 - but I doubt whether there is any more than a coincidental similarity between this and the Birdie Song.

Hear a little bit by clicking here.

What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong 1968, 1988) - This tune bears an odd similarity to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

On the other hand Little Star by The Elegants (No 25 in 1958) is a more obvious borrowing. Twinkle, Twinkle is the same tune as is sung to Baa, Baa Black Sheep.

The original tune is French and entitled "Ah, vous dirais-je, Maman". It was even used by Mozart for a set of variations.

Leningrad by Billy Joel  (No. 53 in 1989) (Listen to short mp3 sample...)

Is this really based on a choral piece by Brahms entitled "Waldesnacht"? Click here to play a midi file of a piano version.

I Don't Know How to Love Him - from Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew lloyd Webber

A hit in 1972 both for Yvonne Elliman and Petula Clark - Is this song based on the 2nd movement of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto?

Hey Jude - The Beatles (No. 1 in 1968)

It has been suggested that this song is based on a piece by Bach. To be precise, the Arioso from Cantata No. 156. Assuming you know Hey Jude, listen now to the start of the Bach piece and make your own mind up. Let Ostin know what you think.

Click here or on the score of the Arioso above to hear the sample.

Fly Me to the Moon (In Other Words) and Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor

Fly Me to the Moon was written by Bart Howard in 1954 for the movie "Once Around", with the original title In Other Words. It has been recorded by artists such as Frank Sinatra and Shirley Bassey. The score below is taken from a point near the start of Bach's fugue. The black dots above the fugue "melody" are those to which I have attached the words of the song. Apart from the two notes with the red dots (on the words me and on) there is an exact match. Clearly the rhythm of the song is dotted and syncopated, but the notes follow exactly the line of Bach's melody. The two that don't fit exactly would have been more difficult to sing, maybe? I think the similarity between the two is too great to be purely coincidental. I haven't been able to trace whether or not the composer acknowledged borrowing from the master. Can anyone throw any light on this? Please get in touch with Ostin if you have any further information on this or have any views on the matter.

Click on the score to hear a short mp3 sample of part of the fugue. The marked part that fits the tune of "Fly me....." starts at 2 seconds into the clip and ends at 13 seconds.

Click here for a sample of Fly Me to The Moon

What do you think?

Fugue in D min - Bach


Contact Ostin if you have any answers.