Why Beethoven Is Credited In This Billy Joel Song From ‘An Innocent Man’

July 22, 2020

When Brett Mitchell, Music Director of the Colorado Symphony, was a teenager, he watched the 1990s Beethoven biopic “Immortal Beloved” in the living room of his home in Seattle.  

“And I asked my mother, ‘Why are they playing a Billy Joel song in the middle of a Beethoven movie?’” Mitchell recalls.  

He was a Billy Joel fan as a teenager. He still is, he says. 

That Beethoven “tune” in the movie was the Pathetique Sonata.  To Mitchell, it sounded just like Joel’s song “This Night.”  In fact, Joel credits “L.v. Beethoven” as co-writer of the song on his 1983 album “An Innocent Man.” (Jump to 1:00 in the video above to hear the similarities.)  The chorus of the song is a direct “steal” from the melodious Pathetique.  CPR’s Ray White points out the comparison Mitchell first noticed as a kid:

Beethoven 250: Brett Mitchell and Billy Joel

What's your Beethoven story? Call 720-222-9501 and tell us your Beethoven story. We may put it on the air or feature it on our social media platforms! We will also be playing more Beethoven stories and music as part of CPR Classical’s Beethoven 250 celebration, beginning in late August. We'll share fascinating stories of the iconic composer and his huge impact to this day. We also bring you a weekly Beethoven Concert Series launching Friday, Oct. 9.

Learn more about Colorado Symphony Music Director, Brett Mitchell:


You can listen to CPR Classical by clicking "Listen Live" on this website. You can also hear CPR Classical at 88.1 FM in Denver, at radio signals around Colorado, or ask your smart speaker to “Play CPR Classical.”

Our lives have changed ...

CPR will not compromise in serving you and our community. Vital news and essential music are made possible by member support.

Donate