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February 2014
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The Beatles and Classical Music

The Beatles at Kennedy Airport, February 7, 1964

The Beatles at Kennedy Airport, February 7, 1964

There is a growing majority of classical musicians working today who have never known a world without the fab four from Liverpool (for those who do, we’re not naming names—ehem!). To honor The Beatles, and perhaps just to feel those songs under their own fingers, a number of classical musicians over the years have done their own versions of Beatles tunes. Some have been encores, some a little more involved.

Of course the Beatles strayed into the classical world with far more frequency than other pop artists have. It was a particular interest of producer George Martin, who introduced instruments such as clarinets, the harpsichord, a string quartet, the french horn, and brass ensembles. Another aspect to The Beatles that lends itself particularly well to classical musicians was their phenomenal gift for melody, which is almost unparalleled in the genre (a melody consisting of only three notes doesn’t sound interesting on a violin). Beatles tunes are more complex (compare “Eleanor Rigby” or “When I’m 64” to Bruce Springsteen’s “Pink Cadillac”).

On Sunday, February 9, Candice Agree celebrates the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show with Leo Brouwer’s “Hard Day’s Night” and “Hey Jude,” arrangements for guitar and orchestra. Candice Agree hosts music on Sunday mornings between 7:00 AM and 10:00 AM.

On Monday, February 10, Carl Grapentine will follow suit with more classical Beatles between 6:00 AM and 10:00 AM.

  • Don’t forget that Nixon’s love of popular music included Duke Ellington, for whom Nixon hosted a seventieth birthday party at the White House, which featured Nixon playing “Happy Birthday” on the White House piano.