A Fifth Of Beethoven

Album: A Fifth Of Beethoven (1976)
Charted: 28 1

Songfacts®:

  • This disco instrumental was an adaptation of Beethoven's 5th Symphony. Convenient, since classical music is in the public domain and free to use.
  • Walter Murphy was an orchestral leader who studied both classical and jazz music piano at the Manhattan School of Music. At one time he was the arranger for Doc Severinsen and The Tonight Show orchestra. Murphy played nearly every instrument on this song but was forced to credit it to an imaginary ensemble. It landed at #1 in the US on October 9, 1976 (ousted the following week by "Disco Duck").

    Murphy never had another Top 40 hit on the Hot 100. The closest he got was this song's follow-up, "Flight 76," based on Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee," which peaked at #44, and 1982's medley of "Themes From E.T. (The Extra-Terrestrial)," which reached #47. Murphy switched to writing jingles and music for TV shows and in 2002 his song "You've Got A Lot To See," written for an episode of the cartoon Family Guy, won the 2002 Emmy Award for Outstanding Music and Lyrics.
  • This plays early in the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever in a scene where John Travolta's character walks into a disco. The song was included on the soundtrack, which spent 24 weeks at #1 in America.
  • Robin Thicke's 2002 debut single, "When I Get You Alone," sampled this song.

Comments: 6

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 25th 1976, Walter Murphy* and the Big Apple Band performed "A Fifth of Beethoven" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Just over four months earlier on May 23rd, 1976 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #80; and on October 3rd, its 20th week on the Top 100, it peaked at #1 {for 1 week} and spent over a half-year on the chart {28 weeks}...
    It also reached #1 {for 2 weeks} on September 19th, 1976 on the Canadian RPM 100 Singles chart...
    He had two other Top 100 records; "Flight of '76" {#44 in 1976} and "The themes from 'E.T.'" {#47 in 1982}...
    Mr. Murphy was nominated for an Academy Award for 'Best Original Song' in 2012 for "Everybody Needs A Best Friend" from the movie 'Ted' {winner was "Skyfall" from the film 'Skyfall'}...
    He will celebrate his 62nd birthday in three months on December 19th {2014}...
    * Mr. Murphy played nearly every instrument on the record, but his record label, Private Stock, insistent that 'the Big Apple Band' be added to label.
  • Neal from Hooterville, MiWalter Murphy does the music for "Family Guy" on TV.
  • Jj from Washington, DcSounds a little bit like the "Judge Judy" theme song.
  • Drew from B\'ham, AlIt'd be awesome if this were two-fifths of Beethoven. Then it would last longer! Better yet, one-half! Because 2/2 disco is being played at normal pace, not too slow, some orchestra parts sound as if they're having to be played a little fast to keep up w/ the beat. But I'm just telling what *I* hear. Y'all others may hear it a little differently.
  • Clovis from Boca Raton, FlRobin Thicke's version sucks! Heard it the other day. He took a perfectly good disco song (if there is such a thing) and ruined it. He added some incomprehensible words and raps to the song. The dude can't even carry a tune. Whatever happened to originality?
  • Jennifer Harris from Grand Blanc, MiThis was seen on an episode of Family Guy,when Joe,Cleaveland,Quagmire,and Peter were picking up Meg,and they were rollerskating to this.
see more comments

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