‘Cavatina’ is a classical guitar piece by Stanley Myers and the theme from The Deer Hunter.
The piece had been recorded by classical guitarist John Williams, long before the film that made it famous. It had originally been written for piano but at Williams’ invitation, Myers re-wrote it for guitar and expanded it. After this transformation, it was first used for the film, The Walking Stick (1970). In 1973, Cleo Laine wrote lyrics and recorded the song as “He Was Beautiful”, accompanied by John Williams himself.
Following the release of The Deer Hunter in 1978, Williams’ instrumental version of ‘Cavatina’ became a UK Top 20 hit. Two other versions also made the Top 20 the same year – another instrumental recording by The Shadows, with an electric guitar played by Hank Marvin, released on their album String of Hits with the name ‘Theme from The Deer Hunter’ (number 9 in the UK singles charts, and number 1 in The Netherlands), and a vocal version (using Cleo Laine’s lyrics) by Iris Williams.
It has a reputation as a staple of buskers, despite its relatively high technical demands. The frequent transitions from one barre chord to another throughout the song make it difficult to sustain the melody and keep it legato.
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