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 tune in the English-speaking world,[citation needed] especially because of a 1970 cover by Simon & Garfunkel, with English lyrics by Paul Simon, 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. The zarzuela is written in prose and consists of one musical play and two acts.

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.

Simon & Garfunkel version[edit]

"El Cóndor Pasa (If I Could)"
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
Songwriter(s)Daniel Alomía Robles (music), Paul Simon (English lyrics), Jorge Milchberg (Arrangement)
Simon & Garfunkel singles chronology
"El Cóndor Pasa (If I Could)"
"The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)"
"El Cóndor Pasa (If I Could)" on YouTube

In 1965, the American pop 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  [fr] in Paris in which both were participating. Simon became friendly with the band, later even touring with them and producing their first American album. He asked the band for permission to use the piece in his production. The band's director and founding member Jorge Milchberg [fr], who was collecting royalties for the piece 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 recorded the Los Incas version, adding English lyrics which included Paul Simon in 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,[5] in fall 1970. The song peaked at #11 on the "Cash Box Top 100". This cover achieved major international success and fame.

Cash Box said that "Paul Simon's arrangement and lyrics turn a marvelous South American folk melody into a stunning commentary."[6] Billboard called it a "sensitive and moving ballad."[7]

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".[8]

"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.[8] "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."[8]

Later that year, Perry Como released a recording of Paul Simon's 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.[9]

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


Chart (1970) Peak
Australian (Kent Music Report)[10] 1
Austrian Singles Chart[11] 1
Canada (RPM)[12] 4
Danish Singles Chart (IFPI Denmark)[13] 3
Dutch Singles Chart[14] 1
Indonesia (Aktuil)[15] 2
Japan (Oricon International Chart)[16] 1
New Zealand (RIANZ)[17] 14
Spanish Singles Chart[18] 1
Switzerland Singles Chart[19] 1
US Singles Chart (Billboard Hot 100)[20] 18
West German Singles Chart[21] 1


Region Sales
Austria 60,000[22]
France 250,000[23]
Germany 1,000,000[24]

Other versions[edit]

Renowned Argentinean guitarist and composer Eduardo Falú also adapted the song for solo guitar. Many other exceptional covers belong to Peruvian guitar players including: Raúl García Zárate, Manuelcha Prado, and Mario Orozco Cáceres. There is also a cover from the song sung by Trini López, and another cover in Chinese by Teresa Teng. There are covers by Peruvian singers including: Yma Súmac, Roxsana, and Kesia Rivera with different lyrics. Famous singers Plácido Domingo, Celia Cruz, Marc Anthony, José Feliciano, and Esther Ofarim also have their own covers of the song. In Canada, a version by the James Last Orchestra reached #46 on October 31, 1970, a week after the Simon and Garfunkel version hit its peak.[25]


  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. Archived from the original on 2018-01-01. Retrieved 2016-06-18.
  4. ^ Stanley, Bob (13 September 2013). "America Strikes Back: The Byrds and Folk Rock". Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop. Faber & Faber. p. 180. ISBN 978-0-571-28198-5.
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–2001. Record Research. p. 222.
  6. ^ "CashBox Singles Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. August 29, 1970. p. 28. Retrieved 2023-04-25.
  7. ^ "Spotlight Singles" (PDF). Billboard. August 29, 1970. p. 54. Retrieved 2023-04-25.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "El Condor Pasa". Archived from the original on November 26, 2010. Retrieved February 12, 2010.
  10. ^ Australian charts:
  11. ^ Steffen Hung. "Simon & Garfunkel – The Boxer". Austriancharts.at. Archived from the original on August 7, 2016. Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  12. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles - October 24, 1970" (PDF).
  13. ^ "Hits of the world". Billboard. October 3, 1970. p. 64. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  14. ^ "Netherlands Top 40 - week 15, 1970". Dutch Top 40. Retrieved January 19, 2024.
  15. ^ Majalah Aktuil 65 (PDF). 1970.
  16. ^ "Japan #1 IMPORT DISKS by Oricon Hot Singles". Oricon Singles Chart. Archived from the original on September 11, 2010. Retrieved January 19, 2024.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  17. ^ "Discography Simon & Garfunkel". New Zealand Charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  18. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  19. ^ "Hitparade Singles Top 100". Swiss Hitparade. Retrieved January 19, 2024.
  20. ^ "Billboard Hot 100, Week of October 31, 1970". Billboard Hot 100. Retrieved January 19, 2024.
  21. ^ "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.
  22. ^ "CBS Austria Product Hiked". Billboard. November 7, 1970. p. 55. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  23. ^ "Top - 1970". Top - France. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  24. ^ "German product now in demand" (PDF). Music Week. February 14, 1975. p. 8. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  25. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles - October 31, 1970" (PDF).


  • 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]