Classical Music Covers of Rock Songs You Need to Hear

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,

From “Bohemian Rhapsody” to “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” check out these amazing classical music covers of rock songs that you need to hear!


There are many well-known and much-loved classical music pieces that have been used as the basis forcover versions by popular rock bands. Some of these covers are so good that they stand on their own as greatpieces of music, regardless of whether you are a fan of the original or not. Here are ten of the best classicalmusic covers of rock songs that you need to hear.

What is classical music?

Classical music is a broad term that usually refers to music produced in, or rooted in the traditions of Western liturgical and secular music, encompassing a broad period from roughly the 9th century to present times. The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common practice period.

What is rock music?

There is no single answer to this question as rock & roll is a genre of music that has evolved greatly since it first came about in the 1950s. Generally speaking, rock music can be characterized by its use of electric guitars, drums, and bass, as well as its blues-influenced roots. Rock songs often deal with topics such as love, rebellion, and social issues. Some of the most famous rock songs ever written include “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana, ” Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, and “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin.

The history of classical music covers of rock songs

Rock and pop songs have been covered by classical musicians since the days of chamber music. In the early 20th century, composers like Arnold Schoenberg and Alban Berg were influenced by the sounds of American blues and jazz, while later generations would be taken with the energy and excitement of rock and roll.

Today, there is a rich tradition of classical musicians covering rock songs, whether it’s a piano version of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” or a full orchestral rendition of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Here are 10 classical music covers of rock songs that you need to hear:

1. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana, arranged for piano by Tori Amos
2. “ Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails, arranged for cello by Apocalyptica
3. “With or Without You” by U2, arranged for violin and piano by Lindsey Stirling
4. “Wonderwall” by Oasis, performed on solo violin by Vitas
5. “Yesterday” by The Beatles, arranged for harp by Joanna Newsom
6. “All Along the Watchtower” by Bob Dylan, performed on solo violin and piano by 2Cellos
7. “Sheep” by Pink Floyd, arranged for string quartet by Kronos Quartet
8. “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC, performed on organ by Virgil Fox
9. “Space Oddity” by David Bowie, arranged for orchestra and choir by Eric whitacre

Why you need to hear classical music covers of rock songs

In today’s music scene, it’s not uncommon to see musicians covering songs outside of their genre. In fact, it’s become somewhat of a trend. Classical musicians are no strangers to this trend either. In recent years, there have been some incredible classical music covers of rock songs.

If you’re a fan of rock music, you need to check out these classical music covers of some of your favorite songs. Trust us, they’re worth a listen!

1. “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses
2. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana
3. “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes
4. “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden
5. “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica
6. “With or Without You” by U2
7. “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day
8. “Yesterday” by The Beatles
9. “One” by Metallica

How classical music and rock music can be combined

Classical music and rock music might seem like two completely different genres, but there are actually a lot of similarities between them. For one, both genres often deal with similar themes, such as love, loss, and heartbreak. Additionally, both genres often involve emotionally-charged performances that can move listeners to tears.

Interestingly, there have been a number of classical music covers of popular rock songs over the years. These covers often add a new layer of depth and emotion to the original song, and can be truly stunning to listen to. Here are just a few examples of classical music covers of rock songs that you need to hear:

1. “Yesterday” by The Beatles: This classic song about lost love gets a beautiful makeover in this classical cover by Chinese musician Lang Lang. Lang Lang’s performance adds a sense of nostalgia and longing to the original song, making it even more heartbreaking than it already was.

2. “Hotel California” by The Eagles: This classic rock song about materialism and greed gets a soulful twist in this classical cover by Russian pianist Mikhail Pletnev. Pletnev’s performance is dramatic and emotive, giving the original song a new level of depth.

3. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana: This iconic grunge anthem gets an unexpected makeover in this classical cover by French violinist Lindsey Stirling. Stirling’s performance is equal parts energetic and haunting, making for a truly unique listening experience.

The benefits of listening to classical music covers of rock songs

There are many benefits to listening to classical music covers of rock songs. First, it can help you appreciate the original songs more. Second, it can help you appreciate the classical genre more. Third, it can help you relax and destress. Finally, it can boost your brain power.

The top 10 classical music covers of rock songs you need to hear

1. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by The Piano Guys
2. “You Shook Me All Night Long” by 2Cellos
3. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Lang Lang
4. “Welcome to the Jungle” by Artistes Anonymes
5. “We Will Rock You” by Apocalyptica
6. “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” by Siciliens d’Alexandrie
7. “Paint It Black” by Jascha Heifetz
8. “Purple Haze” by Sejong Soloists
9. “Kashmir” by Escala
10. “Highway to Hell” by Auryn


Though it can be argued that rock and classical music are two completely different genres, it is undeniable that the two have influenced each other throughout the years. From Marilyn Manson’s cover of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” to Metallica’s operatic re-imagining of “Orion,” there have been some truly great crossover moments between rock and classical music.

What are some of your favorite classical music covers of rock songs? Let us know in the comments!


Whether you’re a fan of classical music or rock music, or both, you need to check out these amazing covers of well-known rock songs by classical musicians. These covers breathe new life into familiar songs and show the versatility of classical music.

1. Gavin Bryars – “Louie Louie”
2. Glenn Gould – “All You Need Is Love”
3. Apocalyptica – “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
4. David Bowie – “Space Oddity”
5. The Beatles – “Eleanor Rigby”
6. Led Zeppelin – “Kashmir”
7. Jimi Hendrix – “Purple Haze”

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