El Cóndor Pasa (song)

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"El Cóndor Pasa"
Published 1913
Composer Daniel Alomía Robles
Language English, Spanish

El Cóndor Pasa (pronounced: [el ˈkondoɾ ˈpasa], Spanish for "The Condor Passes") is an orchestral musical piece from the zarzuela El Cóndor Pasa by the Peruvian composer Daniel Alomía Robles, written in 1913 and based on traditional Andean folk tunes. Since then, it has been estimated that around the world, more than 4000 versions of the melody have been produced, along with 300 sets of lyrics. In 2004, Peru declared this song as part of the national cultural heritage.[1] This song is now considered the second national anthem of Peru[citation needed], with which Peruvians worldwide identify.

It is possibly the best-known Peruvian song due to a cover version by Simon & Garfunkel in 1970 on their Bridge over Troubled Water album. This cover version is called "El Condor Pasa (If I Could)".

Original zarzuela version[edit]

In 1913, Peruvian song writer Daniel Alomía Robles composed "El Cóndor Pasa", and the song was first performed publicly at the Teatro Mazzi in Lima.[2] The song was originally a musical piece in the Peruvian zarzuela (musical play), El cóndor pasa. Its music was composed by Robles in 1913 and its script was written by Julio de La Paz (pseudonym of the Limenian dramatist Julio Baudouin). The piano arrangement of this play's most famous melody was legally registered on May 3, 1933 by The Edward B. Marks Music Corp. in the Library of Congress, under the number 9643. The zarzuela is written in prose and consists of one musical play and two acts. In July 2013, the Colectivo Cultural Centenario El Cóndor Pasa cultural association re-edited the original script which had been lost for a period of time, and published it together with a CD containing the recorded dialogues and seven musical pieces. The music from the original score was reconstructed by musicologist Luis Salazar Mejía with the collaboration of musicians Daniel Dorival and Claude Ferrier and the support of cultural promoter Mario Cerrón Fetta, and re-released on November 14, 15 and 16, 2013 at the Teatro UNI in Lima to celebrate its first centenary. The zarzuela included the famous homonymous melody, without lyrics, based on the traditional Andean music of Peru, where it was declared a National Cultural Heritage in 2004.

Simon and Garfunkel version[edit]

"El Condor Pasa (If I Could)"
Single by Simon & Garfunkel
from the album Bridge over Troubled Water
B-side "Why Don't You Write Me"
Released September 1970
Format 7" single
Recorded November 1968 and
November 1969
Genre Folk rock, Worldbeat, Andean music
Length 3:06
Label Columbia

D. Robles (Music),

Simon & Garfunkel (Lyrics)
Producer(s) Paul Simon,
Art Garfunkel,
Roy Halee
Simon & Garfunkel singles chronology
"El Condor Pasa (If I Could)"
"The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)"

In 1965, the American musician Paul Simon heard for the first time a version of the melody by the band Los Incas in a performance at the Théâtre de l'Est parisien in Paris in which both were participating. Simon became friendly with the group, later touring with them and producing their first American album. He asked the band for permission to use the song in his production, to which the band replied that it was a popular Peruvian melody with arrangement by Jorge Milchberg (director of Los Incas and Urubamba), who had added two notes. Milchberg was registered as the arrangement's co-author, and charged royalties. In 1970, the Simon & Garfunkel duo covered the Los Incas version, adding some lyrics in English written by Simon under the name El Condor Pasa (If I Could) and using, without permission[citation needed], the instrumental version by Los Incas as the base track. They included the song on the 1970 album Bridge Over Troubled Water. This cover achieved wide international fame. Later that year, Perry Como released a cover of Simon's English version on his album It's Impossible, while Julie Felix had a UK Top 20 hit with it, taking advantage of Simon and Garfunkel's decision not to release their version as a UK single.[3] Simon & Garfunkel did release their version as a single in the U.S., which reached #18 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart and #6 on the Easy Listening chart,[4] in fall 1970.

On the Simon & Garfunkel version, Robles, Milchberg, and Simon are all listed as songwriters, with Simon listed alone as the author of the lyrics. Daniel Alomía Robles was not listed as the composer, since Los Incas had told them that the song was considered an Andean folk melody. However, later in 1970, Alomía Robles' son Armando Robles Godoy, a Peruvian filmmaker, filed a copyright lawsuit against Simon on the grounds that the song had been composed by his father, who had copyrighted the song in the United States in 1933.[2] Robles Godoy has said that he bears no ill will towards Simon for what he considers a misunderstanding.[5] "It was an almost friendly court case, because Paul Simon was very respectful of other cultures. It was not carelessness on his part," says Robles Godoy.[5] "He happened to hear the song in Paris from a vernacular group. He liked it, he went to ask them and they gave him the wrong information. They told him it was a popular tune from the 18th century and not my father’s composition. It was a court case without further complications."[5]

Robles Godoy subsequently wrote new lyrics for the song, taking Paul Simon's version as a reference.

The song's opening and the song proper are interpolated multiple times throughout the 2014 movie, Wild.[6]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1970)[7] Peak
Australian Kent Music Report 1
Austrian Singles Chart 1
Belgian Singles Chart (Flanders) 1
Dutch Singles Chart 1
West German Singles Chart 1
Spanish Singles Chart[8] 1
Swiss Singles Chart 1
US Billboard Hot 100 18
U.S. Billboard Easy Listening chart 6

Other versions[edit]

See also[edit]



  • Colectivo Cultural Centenario El Cóndor Pasa, ed. (2013). El cóndor pasa…Cien años después. Lima. ISBN 9786124647208. Registered in the National Library of Peru.
  • Salazar Mejía, Luis (2013). El misterio del cóndor: Memoria e historia de "El cóndor pasa…". Lima: Taky Onqoy Ediciones. ISBN 9786124660504. Registered in the National Library of Peru.
  • Cerrón Fetta, Mario (2014). Cuadernos de Música Peruana Nº 12. Lima.Editorial/ Cuadernos de Música. Register: Legal deposit Nº2008-06894. Registered in the National Library of Peru.

External links[edit]