A Fifth of Beethoven (1976)

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By:
Walter Murphy (born December 19, 1952 in New York City, New York) and the Big Apple Band.

"A Fifth of Beethoven"
was a disco remake of the classical work "Symphony No. 5 in C Minor (Op. 67)," composed in 1807 by Ludwig van Beethoven (born in Germany December 16, 1770, died March 26, 1827.) If he were alive today (as of 2010) Beethoven would be 239 years old. 

Murphy began his musical training at the age of four with Rosa Rio, an organist on radio soap operas. She gave lessons in a Manhattan music store, and because Walter could not read at the time, she used colors to teach him the notes.

He became so proficient that he appeared in Hammond organ commercials and also in concert with Rio. Murphy soon became interested in pop songs adapted from classical themes (for example, the Toys' "A Lover's Concerto").

Murphy: "I had this crazy idea to take symphonic music and combine it with contemporary rhythm," he said. "Nobody had done it in a while, and nobody had done it in this particular way. It was an experiment, taking an instrumental that was about as far from pop music as you could get, and making a hit single out of it. I made up a demo tape of several songs and took it around to all the record companies in New York. Nobody liked any of them, except 'A Fifth of Beethoven.'

"I wrote the song, arranged it, played most of the parts; it was basically my own doing. The first time I heard the song on the air, I was driving in my car and almost hit a tree. It was really exciting. I knew it was being played in some parts of the country, but not New York. It wound up selling about two million [copies]."

It was listed at #94 on Billboard magazine's Greatest Songs of All Time.

Chart position: #1 (US).

It was preceded and succeeded at #1 by two other dance-oriented songs: "Play That Funky Music" (Wild Cherry) and "Disco Duck (Part 1)" (Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots).

The Top Ten Songs: October 9, 1976 (US Billboard Hot 100).
  1. "A Fifth of Beethoven" (Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band)
  2. "Play That Funky Music" (Wild Cherry)
  3. "Lowdown" (Boz Scaggs)
  4. "Disco Duck (Part 1)" (Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots)
  5. "If You Leave Me Now" (Chicago)
  6. "Devil Woman" (Cliff Richard)
  7. "Still The One" (Orleans)
  8. "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight" (England Dan and John Ford Coley)
  9. "(Shake, Shake Shake) Shake Your Booty" (K.C. and the Sunshine Band)
  10. "She's Gone" (Hall and Oates)

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