What If Chopin Wrote Beethoven’s 5th Symphony?

What If Chopin Wrote Beethoven’s 5th Symphony?

I just discovered this gem of a piece on YouTube by Syd R Duke. He recasts the familiar melody from the first movement of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony as a piano arrangement in the style of Chopin.

Now, what does this have to do with Southern Gospel music? Well, nothing really, but there’s a correlation I’d like to draw.

Anyone familiar with the original form of Beethoven’s symphony and Chopin’s piano style can appreciate the quality of what Duke has done here. This arrangement stands out because it’s a unique combination of two familiar things. We can hear Beethoven’s melody. We can hear Chopin’s style.

Meanwhile, in the Southern Gospel genre, I frequently hear “cover” arrangements of songs that just more or less mimic a previous performance. Whoever is singing the melody might emphasize a different phrase to “make it their own,” but it all pretty much sounds the same. Of course, almost every professional male quartet has sung “Oh What A Savior” using an arrangement that was either directly or indirectly based on the Statesmen version. We saw this extended to many other songs last year when we did the polls on favorite versions of familiar Southern Gospel standards.

The reason I posted a link to this Beethoven/Chopin “mashup” is to show an example of how a familiar melody can be presented in an entirely different way while staying in the same genre.

I don’t want our professional Southern Gospel artists to stop recording old songs. What I would like to see is more professional Southern Gospel artists and producers making an effort to present those old songs in a new and creative way.

Now sure, going that route might sometimes feel a bit forced or out of sync, like when the Booth Brothers’ offered up “Bread Upon The Water” in the style of Katrina And The Waves, but I’d still rather see that type of effort being made than some stale routine cover version.

What redefined Southern Gospel classics have caught your ear in a good way? Let us know in the comments below.

David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray is a church music director in Ellenboro, NC. He is the author of Murray's Encyclopedia Of Southern Gospel Music and the owner of both SGHistory.com and MusicScribe.com. David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

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  1. James Hales
    Reply April 13, 14:09 #1 James Hales

    I know this is old…but one that immediately came to mind was JD Sumner & The Stamps rendition of “The Lighthouse”. It is set apart from everyone else because it was so different. Going to a more current example…the Akins’ renditions of “Revive us Again” and “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” or the Ball Brothers, “It’s Gonna Be a Good Day”.

  2. Michael Booth
    Reply April 13, 19:33 #2 Michael Booth

    I was afraid we were going to be an example…..:) Fun article!

    • David Bruce Murray
      Reply April 13, 22:15 David Bruce Murray Author

      I’ll take the occasional “swing and a miss” (although it wasn’t really THAT bad) over a standard cover any day!

      Besides, you more than made up for it with the new version of “Happy Rhythm.” Keep bringing it!

      • Michael Booth
        Reply April 13, 23:44 Michael Booth

        Well thank you David. When one swings for the fences, one will strike out occasionally….. Keep plowin. Always enjoy you guys.


    • bravesfan513
      Reply April 14, 05:39 bravesfan513

      For what it’s worth, the Booth Brothers have my favorite version of “Casting..,” so I don’t see the problem. :)

  3. Daniel_the_tank
    Reply April 13, 21:21 #3 Daniel_the_tank

    Browders “Joy to the World” and Booth Brothers “Happy Rhythm” seem set apart to me.

  4. Bobbie Wiseman
    Reply April 13, 22:17 #4 Bobbie Wiseman

    Even if I have not heard or compared examples given, I am fascinated with this idea! Love to hear innovations in the music I love most!!

  5. DarrellInIndiana
    Reply April 15, 12:06 #5 DarrellInIndiana

    I think Bill Gaither has done this by taking an old church standard and changing it into a “newer” version. “Yes, I Know” is the example that comes to mind. A 1920 church standard in a totally different presentation.

    • Michael Booth
      Reply April 16, 01:08 Michael Booth

      That’s a GREAT one!!!

    • David Bruce Murray
      Reply June 08, 01:16 David Bruce Murray Author

      “Glorious Freedom” is another example of Bill Gaither recasting an old, nearly forgotten hymn for a modern Southern Gospel audience.

  6. QwertyJuan
    Reply April 16, 22:08 #6 QwertyJuan

    Anyone ever hear 4Him do “Solid Rock”?? Absolutely amazing…

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