“I Hear a Symphony” is a 1965 song recorded by The Supremes for the Motown label.
Written and produced by Motown’s main production team, Holland–Dozier–Holland, the song became their sixth number-one pop hit on Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart in the United States for two weeks from November 14, 1965 through November 27, 1965. On the UK pop chart, the single peaked at number thirty-nine.
The Supremes enjoyed a run of hits through 1964 and 1965 under the guidance of writer/producers Holland–Dozier–Holland. In mid-1965, the producers came to realize they had fallen into a rut when the Supremes’ “Nothing but Heartaches” failed to make it to the Top Ten, missing it by just one position and breaking the string of number-one Supremes hits initiated with “Where Did Our Love Go.” Motown chief Berry Gordy was displeased with the performance of “Nothing but Heartaches,” and circulated a memo around the Motown offices that read as follows:
“ We will release nothing less than Top Ten product on any artist; and because the Supremes’ world-wide acceptance is greater than the other artists, on them we will only release number-one records. ”
Holland-Dozier-Holland therefore set about breaking their formula and trying something new. The result was “I Hear a Symphony,” a song with a more complex musical structure than previous Supremes releases. “Symphony” was released as a single in place of another Holland-Dozier-Holland Supremes song, “Mother Dear”, which had been recorded in the same style as their earlier hits.
In a 1968 interview, Diana Ross said that this was one of her favorite songs to perform, even though its key posed some challenges.
“I Hear a Symphony”, later issued on an album of the same name, became the Supremes’ sixth number-one hit in the United States. After the number-five hit “My World Is Empty Without You” and the number-nine hit “Love Is Like an Itching in My Heart,” the Supremes began a run of four more number-one hits: “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” “Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone,” and “The Happening.” The group performed the hit song on The Mike Douglas Show on November 3, 1965. Stevie Wonder recorded the song in 1966.
Michael Jackson recorded the song with the Jackson 5 in 1970 at the Motown Recording Studios, Los Angeles, California.
Canadian pop singer Eria Fachin covered the song on her 1988 album My Name Is Eria Fachin. Her version, titled “Eria’s Aria/I Hear a Symphony” on the album but just “I Hear a Symphony” as a single, charted on RPM’s dance charts in 1989 and received some dance club play internationally, but was not a mainstream chart hit.