El Cóndor Pasa (song)

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"El Cóndor Pasa"
Composer(s)Daniel Alomía Robles

"El Cóndor Pasa" (pronounced [el ˈkondoɾ pasa], 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 music, specifically folk music from Peru.

Since then, it has been estimated that, around the world, more than 4,000 versions of the melody have been produced, along with 300 sets of lyrics. In 2004, Peru declared this song to be a part of their national cultural heritage.[1] This song is now considered the second national anthem of Peru.[2]

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

Original zarzuela version[edit]

In 1913, Peruvian songwriter Daniel Alomía Robles composed "El Cóndor Pasa", and the song was first performed publicly at the Teatro Mazzi in Lima.[3] The song was originally a musical piece in the Peruvian zarzuela (musical play), El cóndor pasa.

Its music was composed by Daniel Alomía 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 melody of the same name, 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 Cóndor Pasa (If I Could)"
El Condor Pasa cover by Sinon & Garfunkel.jpg
Single by Simon & Garfunkel featuring Los Incas
from the album Bridge Over Troubled Water
B-side"Why Don't You Write Me"
ReleasedSeptember 1970
RecordedNovember 1968 and
November 1969
GenreFolk rock, worldbeat, Andean music
Songwriter(s)Daniel Alomía Robles (music), Paul Simon (English lyrics), Jorge Milchberg (Arrangement)
Simon & Garfunkel featuring Los Incas singles chronology
"El Cóndor Pasa (If I Could)"
"The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)"
Music video
"El Cóndor Pasa (If I Could)" (audio) on YouTube

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 band, later even touring with them and producing their first US-American album. He asked the band for permission to use the song in his production. The band's director and founding member Jorge Milchberg, who was collecting royalties for the song as co-author and arranger, responded erroneously that it was a traditional Peruvian composition. Milchberg told Simon he was registered as the arrangement's co-author and collected royalties.

In 1970, the Simon & Garfunkel duo covered the Los Incas version, adding some English lyrics which in turn added Paul Simon to the author credits under the song name "El Cóndor Pasa (If I Could)". The instrumental version by Los Incas was used as the base track. They included the song on the 1970 album Bridge Over Troubled Water. Simon & Garfunkel released their version as a single in the US, which reached number 18 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart and number 6 on the Easy Listening chart,[4] in fall 1970. This cover achieved major international success and fame.

In regard to the Simon & Garfunkel version, Daniel Alomía Robles, Jorge Milchberg, and Paul Simon are now all listed as songwriters, with Simon listed alone as the author of the English lyrics.

Copyright lawsuit[edit]

In late 1970, Daniel Alomía Robles' son Armando Robles Godoy, a Peruvian filmmaker, filed a successful copyright lawsuit against Paul Simon. The grounds for the lawsuit extended that the song had been composed by his father, who had copyrighted the song in the United States in 1933.[3] Armando Robles Godoy said that he held no ill will towards Paul Simon for what he considered a "misunderstanding" and an "honest mistake".[5]

"It was an almost friendly court case because Paul Simon was very respectful of other cultures. It was not carelessness on his part", said Armando Robles Godoy.[5] "He happened to hear the song in Paris from a vernacular group Los Incas. He liked it, he went to ask the band for permission and they gave him the wrong information. Jorge Milchberg told him it was a traditional folk song from the 18th century and not my father's composition. It was a court case without further complications."[5]

Later that year, Perry Como released a cover of Paul 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 & Garfunkel's decision not to release their version as a UK single.[6]

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

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1970) Peak
Australian (Kent Music Report)[7] 1
Austrian Singles Chart[8] 1
Danish Singles Chart (IFPI Denmark)[9] 3
German Singles Chart[10] 1
New Zealand (RIANZ)[11] 14
Spanish Singles Chart[12] 1


Region Sales
Austria 60,000[13]
France 250,000[14]
Germany 1,000,000[15]


  1. ^ "musica musique musica". Latinoamerica-online.info. April 13, 2004. Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  2. ^ El cóndor pasa: así sonaba la canción de Daniel Alomía Robles en los años 1930 (y otras versiones)
  3. ^ a b ""El Cóndor Pasa" patrimonio cultural de la nación". Acuarela.se. Retrieved 2016-06-18.
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–2001. Record Research. p. 222.
  5. ^ a b c Juan Carlos Bondy (July 6, 2008). "El cine, los libros, la muerte (an interview with Armando Robles Godoy)" (PDF). Diario la Primera (in Spanish). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 10, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 26, 2010. Retrieved February 12, 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Australian charts:
  8. ^ Steffen Hung. "Simon & Garfunkel – The Boxer". Austriancharts.at. Archived from the original on August 7, 2016. Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  9. ^ "Hits of the world". Billboard. October 3, 1970. p. 64. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  10. ^ "Musik Charts" [Music Charts] (in German). Charts Surfer. Retrieved March 30, 2022. Click on "Liedsuche" under "Musik" on the right side (on the left side from reader's perspective), then after "Nach was soll gesucht werden?" write the album, song, interpret, etc. and then choose the chart.
  11. ^ "Discography Simon & Garfunkel". New Zealand Charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  12. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  13. ^ "CBS Austria Product Hiked". Billboard. November 7, 1970. p. 55. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  14. ^ "Top - 1970". Top - France. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  15. ^ "German product now in demand" (PDF). Music Week. February 14, 1975. p. 8. Retrieved March 30, 2022.


  • 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]