A Fifth of Beethoven (2:59)

Cover of The Best of Walter Murphy

From The Best of Walter Murphy and 23 other releases

“A Fifth of Beethoven” is a disco instrumental recorded by Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band. It was adapted by Murphy from the first movement of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. The record was produced by noted production music and sound effects recording producer Thomas J. Valentino. It was one of the most popular and memorable pieces of music from the disco era. The “Fifth” in the song’s title is a pun, referencing a liquid measure approximately equal to one-fifth of a gallon (757 ml), a popular size for bottles containing hard liquor, as well as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony from which the song was adapted.

“Fifth” was released in 1976. It was featured on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack (1977) and was a huge hit, becoming Murphy’s best known work and his only Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, where it reached the #1 position for one week. It also went to number 10 on Billboard’s Black Singles chart in the same year.

The song was listed at #94 on Billboard’s Greatest Songs of all time


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