12 classical music acts that took on Eurovision

16 May 2013, 13:16 | Updated: 6 January 2017, 14:45

The Eurovision Song Contest is a highlight of the musical calendar, but what's the classical connection? Well, there's opera singers, spinning violinists, electro-pop operas and dashing string quartets to name a few. Take a look at these incredible videos of when classical music took on Eurovision.

Urban Symphony - Rändajad (Estonia, 2009)

Not just a clever name - this quartet of classically trained singers and string players managed to place 6th in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest with a slightly creepy blend of choppy strings, hip-hop beats and an unexpected bongo solo. 

Quartissimo feat. Martina - Love Symphony (Slovenia, 2009)

Can you believe that this quartet (obviously) of handsome fiddlers didn't make it into the final of the contest in 2009? What are you thinking, Europe?!

Jade Ewen and Andrew Lloyd Webber - It's My Time (United Kingdom, 2009)

One of this country's greatest composers turned his hand to Eurovision in an attempt to turn the tide back and get a win for Great Britain. It was a valiant effort, but it only got us fifth place. Better than nil points, anyway.

Secret Garden - Nocturne (1995, Norway)

Proof that the real winning ingredients for a Eurovision win are hardly any vocals, extensive violin solos and a baggy shirt, Norwegian instrumental duo Secret Garden took the trophy home in 1995.


Riva - Rock Me (Yugoslavia, 1989)

This one is a bit of an attack on the classical world - the lyrics, translated from Serbo-Croat, go like this: "'Cos classical music is for listening and peace for the soul, and this song is played for dancing! Warning: contains non-ironic use of a keytar. 

Alexander Ryback - Fairytale (Norway, 2009)

The cherubic violinist Alexander Ryback took the top spot for Norway in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest with this bizarre number featuring dancers in braces doing press-ups on stage. More proof, as if it were needed, that Eurovision loves a violin solo.


Engelbert Humperdinck - Love Will Set You Free (United Kingdom, 2012)

This one doesn't have much of a musical connection to the classical world (except for a rather dainty 3/4 time signature), but our Engelbert (also known as Arnold George Dorsey) actually named himself after a German opera composer, famous for his version of Hansel & Gretel.


SunStroke Project & Olia Tira - Run Away (Moldova, 2010)

There is nothing about this that we don't love - blue face paint, a sunglass-wearing saxophonist and, the icing on the cake, a Vanessa Mae-style electric violinist on a spinning podium with huge pyrotechnics. Thank you, Moldova. Thank you.


Rambo Amadeus - Euro Neuro (Montenegro, 2012)

His name is a combination of John Rambo and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (natural bedfellows), his stage show is a combination of Trojan horseplay, hooded cloaks and some off-kilter rapping about the financial crisis. Unbelievably, it did not make the final.

Çetin Alp & The Short Waves - Opera (Turkey, 1983)

Frankly, words can't do justice to this one. Full orchestral backing, dancing courtier backing singers and the jauntiest phrasing of the word 'Opera' we've ever heard. Gold from start to finish. Bring back Çetin Alp!


Cezar - It's My Life (Romania, 2013)

The classical influence showed through again in 2013, this time thanks to Romania's entry, Cezar (who calls himself 'The Voice' - not sure if Russell Watson knows about it yet…). Cezar has described his entry as an "electro-pop opera", which seems fair enough, but just wait until he rockets up to the alto range in the chorus - truly terrifying.


Malena Ernman - La voix (Sweden, 2009)

Proving that 2009 really was the year for classical music and Europop to come together (why not sooner?!), Swedish mezzo-soprano Malena Ernman is a veteran of various European opera companies and well-known for her vocal prowess, but this was something of a departure for her. She ended up coming 4th overall.