Till the End of Time is a popular love song written by lyricist Buddy Kaye and composer Ted Mossman and published in 1945. The melody is based on Frédéric Chopin’s Polonaise in A flat major, Op. 53, the “Polonaise héroique,” a piece for solo piano written by Chopin in 1842.This composition is one of Chopin’s most admired compositions and has long been a favorite of the classical piano repertoire. The piece, which is very difficult, requires exceptional piano skills and great virtuosity to be interpreted at a high degree of proficiency.
The biggest hit recording of Till The End Of Time was by Perry Como. The song is a beautiful paean to love – a love that will last as long as “stars are in the blue,” as long as “roses bloom in May,” a love that lasts “till the wells run dry and each mountain disappears.” In other words, a love that will last until the end of time.
The Perry Como recording was recorded on July 3, 1945, and released by RCA Victor Records as catalog number 20-1709. The record first reached the Billboard magazine charts on August 9, 1945, and lasted seventeen weeks on the charts, peaking at #1 (spending ten consecutive weeks at the top). This was Perry Como’s first #1 hit song and his first million seller and marked the beginning of his successful recording career. He went on to become the first artist to have ten records sell more than one million copies.
This would not be the first time that Como would sing a popular song based on a classical melody. In 1946, he sang I’m Always Chasing Rainbows, a song written in 1918 by Joseph McCarthy and Harry Carroll and based on the Fantasie Impromptu in C Sharp Minor by Frédéric Chopin.
The use of classical melodies for popular songs was not anything new. Going back to the nineteenth century, examples can be found of classical music being used as the basis for popular music. Consider just the following examples; there are, of course, many others:
O Promise Me (1891) by Reginald DeKoven & Smith, from the musical Robin Hood, based on Musica proibita, the name popularly given to an aria in the 1888 Italian opera Mala Pasqua by Stanislao Gastaldon.
The Marine Hymn (1919) by L. Z. Philips, based on the Gendarmes’ Duet from Jacques Offenbach’s opera Genevieve de Brabant
Goin’ Home (1922) popularized by Paul Robeson, based on the “Largo” from Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World”
Lover, Come Back To Me (1928) in The New Moon by Sigmund Romberg, the middle section is based on June: Barcarolle from Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons, Opus 37b.
Song Of India (1937) arr. Tommy Dorsey, based on “The Song of the Indian Guest” from Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sadko.
My Reverie (1938) by Larry Clinton, based on Claude Debussy’s Rêverie
The Lamp is Low (1939) by Peter DeRose and Bert Shefter, based on Maurice Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante défunte
Our Love (1939) by Buddy Bernier and Bob Emmerich and was adapted by bandleader Larry Clinton from the main theme of the overture to Romeo and Juliet by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and recorded by Clinton and by Jimmy Dorsey.
Tonight We Love (1941) by Freddy Martin, Bobby Worth and Ray Austin, based on Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 1 in B-Flat Minor, Op.23
If You Are But a Dream (1942) by Moe Jaffe, Jack Fulton, and Nat Bonx, based on Anton Rubinstein’s Romance in E flat, Op. 44,No. 1
Full Moon and Empty Arms (1945) by Buddy Kaye and Ted Mossman, based on Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.
There’s No Tomorrow (1949) by Al Hoffman, Leo Corday and Leon Carr, popularized by Tony Martin, based on O Sole Mio by Eduardo di Capua.
A number of other recordings of Till The End Of Time were made in 1945. Dick Haymes’ version also charted, as well as the version by Les Brown and his orchestra, with vocalist Doris Day. The pianist/orchestra leader, Carmen Cavallaro also recorded the song as an instrumental under the title Chopin’s Polonaise. Another classical pianist who was featured in films at this time was José Iturbi. In A Song to Remember, a biographical film that tells a fictionalized life story of Polish pianist and composer Frédéric Chopin, Iturbi plays the song as a classical piece with the title Chopin’s Polonaise In A Flat. It, too, charted in 1945, peaking at #20. Ginny Simms made a recording of the song, but it did not chart on Billboard.
The song was featured prominently in the 1946 film of the same name. Released the same year as the Oscar-winning film, The Best Years of Our Lives, the film Till the End of Time covers much the same topic: the adjustment of World War II veterans to civilian life. It was based on the novel They Dream of Home by Niven Busch. Unlike the soldier, sailor and airman of The Best Years of Our Lives, the male leads in this film are all U.S. Marines. Frédéric Chopin’s Polonaise Op. 53 is played throughout the film.
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Perry Como, Russ Case and his Orchestra (#1) Till The End Of Time
Dick Haymes, Victor Young and his Orchestra (#3) Till The End Of Time
Les Brown and his Orchestra, Vocal by Doris Day (#3) Till The End Of Time
Carmen Cavallaro and his Orchestra (instrumental) (#3) Chopin’s Polonaise
José Iturbi (instrumental) (#20) Chopin’s Polonaise In A Flat
Ginny Simms, Edgar Fairchild Orchestra (did not chart) Till The End Of Time