Classical Music Inspires Swing

At this year’s Balboa Experiment, Kate Hedin played a set of Swing music that was “classically” inspired, meaning it had many riffs and themes lifted from or inspired by classical music.1 Mike Guzzo, a dancer from the East Coast and excellent DJ in his own right, kicked off an excellent Facebook discussion based around Kate’s inspirational set. For those of you who aren’t Facebook friends with Mike, I’ve compiled the highlights and songs contributed by other Swing music geeks here (most of them by Kate), hopefully inspiring you to find Swing songs with a connection to Classical Music. (Not all classically inspired Swing songs will be danceable, but are a lot of fun to hear!)


Swing Version Classical Version
Moon Love (Glenn Miller) Tchaikovsky 5th Symphony, 2nd Movement
Going Home (Glenn Miller) Deep River, Dvorak’s 9th
Caprice XXIV Paganini (Goodman) Caprice No. 24 by Niccolo Paganini
Peter and the Wolf (Goodman) Peter and the Wolf by Provofiev
Bounce of the Sugar Plum Fairy (Kirby) Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”, from The Nutcracker
Swan Lake (Eddie Condon) Tchaikovsky – Swan Lake (Swan Theme)
Humoresque (Glenn Miller) Dvorak – Humoresque
Night on Bald Mountain (Mint Julep Jazz Band) Mussorgsky – Night On Bald Mountain
Chopin’s Minute Waltz (Charlie Ventura Septet) Chopin Minute Waltz
In An 18th Century Drawing Room (Raymond Scott)3 Mozart – Sonata #3 in C Major)
Prelude in C Sharp Minor (Jack Teagarden) Rachmaninov – Prelude in C Sharp Minor
Anitra’s Dance (Jack Teagarden) Grieg – Anitra’s Dance – Peer Gynt Suite
Prelude in G Minor (Jack Teagarden)4 Prelude in G Minor (Rachmaninoff)
Bacarolle (Jack Teagarden)4 Barcarolle (Jacques Offenbach)


1 Due to a broadcast boycott in 1941 when ASCAP tripled their licensing fees, bandleaders who wanted airplay recorded music that was in the public domain, from folk songs to classical music, in their preferred styles. [Source]

2 There’s a CD compilation of many classical inspired songs: Beethoven Wrote It… But It Swings

3 Raymond Scott has an interesting history and legacy, namely Powerhouse, which many will remember from a slew of Looney Toons cartoons.

4 You can find samples of the songs here.