The piece had been recorded by classical guitarist John Williams, long before the film that made it famous. It had originally been written for piano but at Williams' invitation, Myers re-wrote it for guitar and expanded it. After this transformation, it was first used for the film, The Walking Stick (1970). In 1973, Cleo Laine wrote lyrics and recorded the song "He Was Beautiful" accompanied by John Williams.
Following the release of The Deer Hunter in 1979, Williams' instrumental version of "Cavatina" became a UK Top 20 hit. Two other versions also made the Top 20 the same year - another instrumental recording by The Shadows and a vocal version (using Cleo Laine's lyrics) by Iris Williams.
The song was also recorded by Paul Potts on his debut album, One Chance. There is a gospel version set to Cavatina called "Beautiful" the author is Billy Evmur and it appears in the "Dove On A Distant Oak Tree" collection
It has a reputation as a staple of buskers, despite its relatively high technical demands. The frequent transitions from one barre chord to another throughout the song makes it difficult to sustain the melody and keep it legato.