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Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Among the most popular classical tunes of all time is Pachelbel's Canon in D.  You might have heard it at a wedding. Elephants in Thailand paint to it.  Canon in D is in my top three of classical music, and for reasons I can't understand, Baroque music is also in my top four genres, with post World War II music from Japan, popular American songs of the fifties and show tunes.  Very little is known about when this piece was composed by Johann Pachelbel, but the surmisal is in 1660 or 1694.  If 1660, he was 17 years old.  This was the Baroque Period.

Pachelbel was born in Nuremberg and was close to the Bach family.  He became one of the leading German organ composers and is said to have written 500 classical pieces.  He eventually returned to Nuremberg and passed away at the age of 52.  But the life expectancy then was 36.

His Canon in D was essentially lost until 1970 when Jean-Francois Paillard made a recording and is credited for the resurrection.  Click on his name to hear that original.  This classic might forever have been lost if RCA Victor did not pick up the Erato catalog  which included this version for U.S. distribution.  Yet I distinctly remember first hearing Canon in D in a music shop in the late 60's, and wondered why I liked it so much even though I'd never heard it before.  

Perhaps there were links even earlier to the 1960's baroque pop period because Oh Lord! Why Lord? by the Pop Tops from Spain and France's Aphrodites Child's Rain and Tears were exact copies of Pachelbel's original.  This was the period when songs like A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum were popular.  Yes, there is a genre called Baroque Pop.

Absolutely no doubt that the most annoying version is Jun Togawa's 1984 punk effort from Japan.


The 1980 movie Ordinary People featured Canon in D, winning the Academy Award for Best Picture.  How pervasive is Canon in D?  Just click on that to be amazed.  Can you believe that the theme song of Laverne and Shirley uses this Pachelbel progression?

Limelight lists Canon in D (one hour long) as one of the top ten wonders in classical music.  Except Pachelbel did write around 500 others.

If you linked to a few of the above, you might be surprised to learn that Canon in D, simply, is 8 bars of music repeated 28 times!


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