Blog / Brahms' Influence on Popular Culture

Brahms' Influence on Popular Culture

Posted on 11 Aug 2015 by Leo Messias

Swanky hotel foyers, the customer service hotline of your least favourite supplier, or the ice cream truck – no facet of day-to-day life is left untouched by classical music.

Little wonder then, that one of the most popular symphonies by one of the most popular Romantic composers would naturally make its way into popular culture through films, advertising and, well… the music of other artists. And it’s not all bad and ugly, you’ll be glad to hear.

So without further ado, here are our favourite examples of the influence of Brahms’ Symphony No.3 in F major within popular culture…

Before doing a cameo on The Simpsons was a ‘thing’, Brahms rocked the British empire in an episode of Fawlty Towers.

In the hands of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin in their first album together after ending their torrid, controversial, and long-lasting love affair, Brahms went 80s chic for a bit.

Also in the 80s, Stevie Wonder had love for Brahms but only on a part-time basis…

Frank Sinatra did what is possibly the most well-known 20th-century appropriation of the classic.

But quite possibly this sample by DA F.E.N.C.E. MEN in their non-hit Massacre (featuring Krumb Snatcha) takes the cake. A new classic in the making…?

The ending scene of the classic police thriller from Hong Kong, Infernal Affairs, used the allegretto theme when the crowd toasts triad boss Hon Sam during the Hong Kong handover.

And the classiest of all 20th-century appropriations of the classic… In the 1961 film Goodbye Again (also known as Aimez-vous Brahms?), starring Ingrid Bergman, the soulful theme of the third movement of the symphony is heard repeatedly, including as the tune of a song (“Say No More, It’s Goodbye”) sung by the night club singer (Diahann Carroll).

#ACO15: Brahms 3 & Mozart Sinfonia Concertante
16-26 August

Discover the ACO in full symphonic force, directed by Richard Tognetti.

Experience the ACO in grand style in a program that includes Brahm’s monumental Third Symphony, Mozart’s dazzling Sinfonia Concertante and The Magic Flute Overture.

MOZART The Magic Flute Overture
MOZARTSinfonia concertante in E-flat major
BRAHMS Symphony No.3 in F major