note: while I use contemporary examples to formulate my question, I'm asking for answers based on examples in classical music.

Two contemporary music examples of a "mashup", the combination or even superposition of two unrelated musical works that highlights their unexpected compatibility and/or similarity can be heard in the following examples in YouTube:

(while the visual parts of the links can serve to better identify when the two works are interposed, they are not necessary to watch for the purposes of this question; one can simply listen if contemporary music videos are not one's cup of tea)

Question: Are there any examples in classical music history of "mashups" of two unrelated works?

These might be a third work combining elements of two (or more) previous works, or a second work paying "homage" to a previous work.

They might be serious examples, or a bit of musical humor by the classical period composer. I specify that because there are no doubt *classical-sounding( examples of the P.D.Q. Bach variety.

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    Not exactly classical per se, more like "contemporary", but there is Berio's Sinfonia where he quotes numerous classical compositions "to represent an abstract and distorted history of culture" Mar 24, 2022 at 8:49
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    There are also many cases of building a musical work on top of another—a sort of "remix"—like the parody mass. And a million-and-1 cases of simple borrowing of musical material, a composer quoting themself or another composer, like a sort of sampling, in times before "intellectual property." Mar 24, 2022 at 12:54
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    And I have to mention my favorite mashup: Never Gonna Give Your Teen Spirit Up Mar 24, 2022 at 12:55
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    Overtures to Operas between late 18th and 19th century often included themes and excerpts from the Opera itself. They might not be technically considered as "mashups", as they are part of the same "bigger" composition (the whole Opera) from the same composer, and those themes usually are not mixed together, but presented at different times (so, it's more of a medley). Mar 24, 2022 at 19:37
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    Charles Ives's 1776 Overture and March is a mashup of “The British Grenadiers” and two songs from The War of Independence: 'Hail, Columbia' and 'The Red White and Blue. (It gets up a good head of steam 45" in.) Mar 26, 2022 at 9:50

3 Answers 3


The technical term is "quodlibet" (meaning "whatever you please"). A famous example is Bach's "Goldberg Variations" in which two folksongs are combined in various ways. There's a similar procedure used by Spanish composers termed the "Ensalada." Often sacred and popular songs were used together; some of Obrect's masses are composed this way.

There are a bunch more discussed in the Wikipedia article on quodlibet. One later example is from Gottschalk, combining "Hail, Columbia" and "Yankee Doodle."


Does Gounod's Ave Maria count as a mashup? It's using Bach's Prelude in C major as accompaniment and adds a new melody on top.

Example performance.

  • Unless Gounod's accompaniment came from another existing work, I would say, no, this is not an example. Mar 24, 2022 at 13:05
  • @MichaelCurtis surely you meant to type "unless Gounod's melody...," didn't you?
    – phoog
    Mar 26, 2022 at 17:03

This isn't from classical music history, but here's a mashup of multiple pieces of classical music: Classical Music Mashup.

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