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Pachabel Canon in D: Song of the Day for September 1

German composer Johann Pachelbel made one of the greatest comebacks of all time - 250 years after his death.

Pachelbel was baptized September 1, 1653 in Nuremberg, Germany. During the baroque period, he was best-known as an organ composer. Today, he is best known for Our Song of the Day, Pachelbel Canon in D, as a popular wedding march.

Pachelbel taught Johann Christian Bach and influenced Bach’s brother Johann Sebastian Bach.

He died in 1706 at the age of 52 and then was forgotten.

A music scholar in 1919 revived his name. He published the canon when he was doing a paper about Pachelbel’s chorale music.

The arrangement was first published a decade later and recorded in 1940.

But it wasn’t until 1968 when Pachelbel Canon in D became popular. French conductor Jean-Francois Paillard and his chamber orchestra recorded it at a slower pace.

A classical music station in San Francisco discovered it in 1970, becoming one of the station’s most popular requests.

By 1980, more people became aware of the piece when it was used as the opening track for the Academy Award winning movie “Ordinary People,” directed by Robert Redford.

The song expanded the spotlight on baroque composers like Pachelbel, according to a story in the New York Times about how the canon became a popular wedding song.

The canon has done more than walk brides down an aisle. It has influenced a couple of generation of pop songwriters. Music producer Pete Waterman is quoted as saying it’s “almost the godfather of pop music because we’ve all used that in our own way for the past 30 years.”

Song of the Day is a co-production of WGCU Public Media and Sheldon Zoldan.
Audio edited by Simon Dunham.

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