Staircases have been around in one form or another for thousands of years and have become an integral part of our culture. In this article as part of our ‘Staircases in Culture’ series, we look at staircases in music – and we promise that at no point will we reference the pop group Steps!

piano stairs


From popular music, rock & classical pieces, staircases have found their way into all kinds of genres.

Staircases in Classical Music

In this video, pianist Sean Chene performs ‘The Devil’s Staircase’, also referred to as György Ligeti’s Etude No. 13, L’escalier du diable in a live performance at the Fraser Performance studio at WGBH:

Staircases in Rock Music

While it was very tempting to include the Radiohead song ‘Staircase’ in this category, and ‘Staircase At The University’ by Morrissey is a bit too dark with it’s typically sardonic lyrics ‘Staircase at the university, She threw herself down and her head split three ways;’ there is of course only one song which springs to mind when you think about staircases referenced in music. Stairway to Heaven by the legendary Led Zeppelin is often referred to as one of the greatest rock songs of all time. Controversy has recently shrouded this iconic song with allegations of plagiarism claiming that the beginning of Stairway to Heaven was lifted from the 1968 Spirit song Taurus. Regardless, it remains a rock masterpiece.

Staircases in Popular Music

While this song is not traditionally classed as ‘popular music’, it is popular with our family so deserves a mention. Similarly, it may not at first glance appear to be as culturally significant as the other songs featured but it is of course derived from the famous AA Milne poem Half Way Up and is possibly our favourite staircase song on the list.


In This Series:

Staircases in Culture: Music

Staircases in Culture: Art

Staircases in Culture: Cinema 

Staircases in Culture: Language

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