Houston Symphony

The Beatles Receive The Classical Treatment

Before you hear the Houston Symphony POPS this weekend, listen to how these other classical geniuses performed the Beatles!

This weekend, the Houston Symphony POPS will kick off their 2015 – 2016 concert season with the music of the Beatles. Since their debut in 1960, the Beatles have attracted the attention and admiration from musicians of all genres, including some of the greatest classical performers, conductors and composers. Here’s a chronological look at the many classical musicians who have paid homage to the music of the Beatles!

The Baroque Beatles Book

Baroque Beatles Book album cover, with illustrations of Baroque composers.
Baroque Beatles Book album cover.
In 1965, composer/pianist Joshua Rifkin created an album for Nonesuch Records that takes themes from popular Beatles tunes and imagines them in the style of the great Baroque composers. Despite it’s somewhat parodic nature, the album found a niche audience and became a critical success, eventually reaching the Billboard Top 100. Selections from this album can be heard here.

Beatles Arias

After singing many popular Beatles tunes with her young daughter, mezzo-soprano Cathy Berberian released a 1967 LP of operatic covers of favorite Beatles songs performed by herself and a small chamber orchestra on the Polydor label. While members of the classical music community were disapproving of her work, the more melodic tracks from this album gained praise from critics and audiences alike. One of her most popular tracks can be heard here.

Arthur Fielder and the Boston Pops Play the Beatles

Arthur Fielder, the most influential and famous conductor for the orchestral pops genre, was also a longtime fan of the Beatles. In 1969, he and the Boston Pops recorded a full album of Beatles covers on RCA Victor. It was this love for popular music and entertaining his audiences that made the Boston Pops the most beloved orchestra in the country. A full recording of the album can be heard here.

The Beatles Connection

The King's Singers: The Beatles Connection album cover.
The King’s Singers: The Beatles Connection album cover.
In 1986, another group of English gentlemen decided to record an album of songs including “Penny Lane” and “Blackbird”. Under the JVC label, popular choral group The King’s Singers released an album of a cappella Beatles arrangements to critical success. A track from this album can be heard here.

The Beatles: 1962 – 1970

In 1991, Aki Takahashi released an album of commissions from a wide range of composers with one common idea in mind: they all had to interpret works by the Beatles. One of the better known works is John Cage’s addition to the album, The Beatles: 1962 – 1970. This work features multiple pianists each performing fragments from popular Beatles tunes. A performance of the work can be heard here.

Like what you’ve heard? Check out the Houston Symphony POPS as they play their favorite Beatles songs this weekend at Jones Hall. More information available here!

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