Your Questions Answered, vol. 2!

Ian from Australia wrote in asking about a popular song based on a melody from an organ concerto by Camille Saint-Saëns. He had heard the pop song before he heard the classical work it was based on, and was trying to find out who recorded the song.

I’m happy to report that Miss Music Nerd’s Musical Detective Agency has the answer! 😀

First, the source: turns out Saint-Saëns didn’t officially write an organ concerto, but his Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78, has been nicknamed the “Organ Symphony,” as the organ features prominently in two sections of the work. (If you wrote a concerto where the solo instrument sat out the first half or so of each movement, your soloist might take offense! 😉 ) The piece uses piano as well, which is striking — piano as an orchestral instrument (as opposed to concerto solo instrument) didn’t become common until the 20th century, as far as I know. He even writes for piano duet (two players on one piano, a.k.a. “piano four hands”) in one of the sections, which means some lucky pianist gets to sit and read the paper at union scale till 3/4 of the way through the piece! 😉 (Just kidding — I’d happily volunteer for that gig — playing in an orchestra is big fun for us pianists, who are accustomed to being lonely most of the time!)

Anyhoo, the melody in question comes from a section from the second movement marked Maestoso (majestic):

And here’s the pop arrangement, “If I Had Words,” by Scott Fitzgerald and Yvonne Keeley, released in 1978 (check the grooovy video effects! 😛 ):

As you can hear, the songwriters put a reggae beat under Saint-Saëns’ melody. Works pretty well — in a goofy 70’s kinda way, I mean! 😛

By the way, if this melody sounds familiar to you, but you’re sure you haven’t heard either of the above versions, perhaps you’ve seen this movie?

You have to wonder what our friend Camille would have thought of this particular adaptation of his work. What a resumé — piano and organ virtuoso, composer, conductor, mathematician, philosopher, poet, and… tunesmith for singing mice! 😛 On the other hand, he did write the Carnival of the Animals, so perhaps it’s fitting! 😉

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    Your Questions Answered, vol. 2! — 1 Comment

    1. This is the most random setting of an orchestral melody I think I’ve ever heard. It sounds like a hymn that has been given the jazzed up treatment. Very strange.