The Frederick Symphony Orchestra Blog

21 Top Songs Inspired By Classical Music

Posted by Illumine8 on Oct 25, 2017 9:00:00 AM


In 2018, we’re performing an entire concert dedicated to classical music’s impact on rock and roll and pop. Check out some of the most popular songs inspired by the genre.

  • Alejandro by Lady Gaga. The theatrical, flamboyant pop singer is a classical pianist and grabbed Csárdás by Italian composer Vittorio Monti for the intro of one of her hit singles.

  • Ave Maria by Beyoncé. Queen B created a rendition of Austrian composer Franz Schubert’s most popular composition.

  • Bad Romance by Lady Gaga. Gaga’s at it again, stealing the harpsichord introduction from German composer Johann Sebastian Bach’s The Well Tempered Clavier.

  • Could It Be Magic by Barry Manilow. The iconic singer used chords from Polish composer Frédéric Chopin’s Prelude in C Minor.

  • Heroes by Philip Glass. In a welcome twist to this list, the composer was inspired by the talent. After meeting David Bowie as a 20-something art student who wanted to turn from painter to composer, Glass wrote two symphonies inspired by his late friend.

    Bowie eventually used Heroes as the walk-out music to his concerts and superimposed his voice singing on to the symphonic recording -- though the recording hasn’t been found.

    “I was kind of surprised there are so few full orchestrated versions of David’s compositions – given what an admired and talented composer he was,” Glass said to The Guardian. “I seem to have been the only person who’s ever written symphonies based on his work.”

    Check out more of this masterful musician in FSO Meets The Beatles in June 2018.

  • I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You by Elvis Presley. The King of Rock n’ Roll sampled French composer Jean-Paul-Égide Martini’s Plaisir D'Amour for one of his biggest hits of all time. The song was also covered by alternative rock band Twenty One Pilots, a cappella sensations Pentatonix, and more.

  • It’s A Hard Life by Queen. If anyone was going to sample classical music, it was going to be Freddie Mercury. In this song, the ultra-famous band nabbed the melody from Italian composer Ruggero Leoncavallo's Vesti La Giubba from his opera Pagliacci.

  • It’s Now Or Never by Elvis Presley. The melody of this romantic song was inspired by O Sole Mio by Italian composer Eduardo di Capua.

  • Lady Lynda by The Beach Boys. The symphonic ambitions of co-founder and frontman Brian Wilson are well known, stealing the baroque styles of Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring for this hit.

  • Little Me by Little Mix. The British girl band sampled French composer Gabriel Fauré’s Pavane for their inspiring tune about advice to their younger selves.

  • My Reverie by Ella Fitzgerald. The jazz legend created a delicate impression of French composer Claude Debussy’s Reverie as an ode to the composer.

  • Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles. Rumor has it that Paul McCartney listened to Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi’s Winter from The Four Seasons when he suggested that George Martin write up a string arrangement for this song.

    The British invasion band also took inspiration Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (Tomorrow Never Knows), Bach (She Loves You, Greensleeves), Polish composer Witold Lutosławski (A Day in the Life), and Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (All You Need Is Love).

    Check out more of this legendary band in FSO Meets The Beatles in June 2018.

  • Russians by Sting. Prior to reinventing himself as a classical music enthusiast, Sting used the melody from Ukrainian composer Sergei Prokofiev's Romance from Lieutenant Kijé.

  • Say You’ll Go by Janelle Monáe. At the very end of this song, Monáe used a quote of Debussy’s Clair De Lune.

  • Colour My World by Chicago. Songwriter James Pankow's Colour My World (as part of Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon) drew inspiration from Bach’s arpeggios, and Walter Parazaider pursued a classical music career while forming the rock band, named after his hometown.

    Check out more of this legendary band in FSO Meets The Beatles in June 2018 at Frederick Community College.

We’ll also be showcasing hits by The Moody Blues, Stevie Wonder, Kansas, The Eagles, and more. For more information about and to get tickets to the June 2018 concert, click on the button below:

Buy Your Tickets Today

Topics: Modern Music, classical music