A little cartoonish classical education
March 1, 2021 7:09 PM   Subscribe

Vincent Alexander (@NonsenseIsland) has posted a lengthy twitter thread of classical music used in classic cartoons, giving title and composer name, and each entry is accompanied with a short (generally less than 2 minutes) video full of examples of that piece being used. It's a delightful little classical music education lesson that brings back a full blast from the past, if these cartoons were a part of your childhood. Threadreader link.
posted by hippybear (30 comments total) 68 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wonderful! Although some of the cartoons are also reminders of how early animation could be pretty problematic. But glad to see one of my favorites, Long-Haired Hare in there. Leopold!
posted by TedW at 7:32 PM on March 1 [4 favorites]


(Better than Beethoven’s Wig, for the most part.)
posted by TedW at 7:34 PM on March 1


That's a great thread.

Since the beginning of the year, MeTV has been showing three hours of classic cartoons on Saturday mornings, and it's been pretty great. It's be awesome if he could do the Tin Pan Alley/jazz tunes next. Many of those songs would have long since been lost down the memory hole were they not immortalized in cartoons.
posted by 2N2222 at 7:36 PM on March 1 [8 favorites]


Ahhh, this brings back memories.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:25 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Typhoons! Hurricanes! Earthquakes! SMOG!!!
posted by Nerd of the North at 8:35 PM on March 1 [8 favorites]


Just over four years ago, I was surprised at how well I did identifying the classical music pieces in this FPP. which was due in large part to watching Saturday morning cartoons. Who knew I was getting an arts education - I thought I was just being entertained!
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:47 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Well that took up my night. Thank you! That was great to see
posted by JoeXIII007 at 9:26 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Mozart's “Piano Sonata No. 16 in C Major, K. 545,” always reminds me of Jan Hooks. I miss her terribly, but damn if she didn't just make me laugh again with a 32-year-old joke that I've seen a million times.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:15 PM on March 1 [6 favorites]


Oh, and that Rossini piece isn't called "Dawn." That's from the prelude and is a piece for cello and bass. The "morning song" from The William Tell Overture is “Call to the Cows.” Which took me a little while to dig up because searching for "cartoon morning music" led me down the Peer Gynt path.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:48 PM on March 1 [3 favorites]


Its an interesting reminder of just how much out of copyright classical music Disney used - before succeeding in extending the copyright period for their own material.

The sequences with bugs at the piano -particularly the first with the tuxedo and knowing glances to camera - reminds me very much of Lord Vinheteiro (who can bee seen here illustrating the history of music in cartoons).
posted by rongorongo at 10:58 PM on March 1 [6 favorites]


I thoroughly enjoyed that. Bugs and the Barber of Seville. Glorious. Masterpiece.
posted by double bubble at 12:56 AM on March 2 [1 favorite]


This is great, thanks for posting.
Reminded me of this, more proof that cartoons also generated a lot of their own "classical" music!
posted by chavenet at 1:12 AM on March 2


The Juventino Rosas waltz, mentioned in the thread, is well-known in Mexico. Most people around the world do think it is by Strauss.
posted by vacapinta at 1:13 AM on March 2 [3 favorites]


fantastic
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:58 AM on March 2


Who knew I was getting an arts education - I thought I was just being entertained!

As I was growing up in the '70s watching these cartoons, it was also an age before cable, when my home town of Louisville, Kentucky, has three networks, public television, and an independent TV station (which, like many similar channels, would go on to become a Fox affiliate). As such, much of the programming, especially during the day, was old movies.

But I often recognized actors and characters in those movies from having already seen them parodied in Warner Brothers cartoons. Besides classical music, they are also a primer to film in the middle of the 20th century.

(One of the things I enjoy about Animaniacs is that they carry on the tradition of parodying pop culture, though why they seemed to be obsessed with Jerry Lewis escapes me.)
posted by Gelatin at 5:29 AM on March 2 [2 favorites]


Cartoons are definitely where I learned a lot of my classical music education. And I've wondered how some of these cartoons with contemporary references come across to kids who see parodies of things in the 20th century without having a high chance of being exposed to the originals because "you have to watch what's on these few channels at the moment."

Also, "What's Opera Doc" is truly a few minutes of sheer perfection. Not just the music and performances but the art design for the cartoon is just fabulous.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:34 AM on March 2 [1 favorite]


The "morning song" from The William Tell Overture is “Call to the Cows.” yt Which took me a little while to dig up because searching for "cartoon morning music" led me down the Peer Gynt yt path.

Thanks for that, ob1. I was this many days old when I learned those were not both Peer Gynt. All that the William Tell Overture brings to my nyekulturny mind is the rousing Lone Ranger stuff.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:46 AM on March 2 [4 favorites]


For anyone interested in cartoon music, I would recommend finding the two Carl Stalling Project albums produced by the late Hal Willner. They are endlessly enjoyable, not just for nostalgia's sake, but also for the manic, happy nature of the scores. I have them on CD, but you can find them on most, if not all, streaming services.
posted by PatchesPal at 6:55 AM on March 2 [7 favorites]


But I often recognized actors and characters in those movies from having already seen them parodied in Warner Brothers cartoons. Besides classical music, they are also a primer to film in the middle of the 20th century.

That's probably a separate FPP to be made, but yes, this is a thing. I have often pondered pop cultural osmosis and how the many references to something -- SNL skits on YouTube, Simpsons couch gags, late night monologues -- can give you a funhouse mirror view of a piece of work.

I was born at the tail end of the sixties in prime Gen-X territory. In 1992 I was visiting a friend in London; we were both Kubrick fans and the restored Spartacus had just been released, so we went to see it at the Barbican. Afterwards, I was trying to think where I had known Tony Curtis from before that I knew who he was instantly but could not think why.

I looked up his films (in those pre-IMDb, pre-search engine says, in a thick paperback video guide) and realized I have never seen any of the films he is known for. Eventually I realized it must be from his single appearance as Stony Curtis in a 1965 episode of The Flintstones.

The post-boomer generations' sense of satire and parody is such that we seem to recognize it pretty readily compared to our predecessors. I suspect most of us gathered that, say, Foghorn Leghorn was a parody of someone. However, Senator Claghorn in The Fred Allen Show (which ended in 1949, so it was already old when the boomers saw these cartoons in the fifties) was not a referent that anyone I knew knew, and I only learned of it as an adult. There are little kids today watching a blustery southern rooster pontificate on screen, unaware that he is a parody of a radio show character from before their grandparents were born.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:30 AM on March 2 [10 favorites]


well this makes my week better
posted by es_de_bah at 7:45 AM on March 2


I've long wanted this as my ringtone...
posted by jim in austin at 8:42 AM on March 2 [5 favorites]


jim in austin, I do use that as my ringtone!! Small world...
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:58 AM on March 2 [3 favorites]


I suspect most of us gathered that, say, Foghorn Leghorn was a parody of someone

I guess I just thought he was an....entity. I don't think it occurred to me that he was a parody. I guess I was used to just accepting things in these cartoons. For example: what's "ALUM"? I never found out, but I know it will fuck up an opera singer.
posted by thelonius at 12:07 PM on March 2 [6 favorites]


In re parodies and Gen Xers, my nearly entire experience of 1970s film-making comes to me via Mad Magazine. There are many, many movies I've never seen and yet "know" because they were parodied in Mad. And sometimes when I stumble across one on TV (say, "The Towering Inferno" or "The French Connection"), man they seem familiar.
posted by chavenet at 12:15 PM on March 2 [5 favorites]


Apparently Foghorn Leghorn was directly inspired by the character of Senator Claghorn, a blustery Southern politician played by Kenny Delmar on Fred Allen's popular 1940s radio show...
posted by jim in austin at 12:26 PM on March 2 [2 favorites]


ricochet biscuit I also want to see this FPP! As a child, I saw---and mystifyingly adored---Spaceballs before ever watching Star Wars. Even now, I'll come upon something parodied in a Simpsons episode I first watched 20 years ago. Definitely some parallels to college students' initial experiences with academic writing, where your first encounter with an original work is often through its interpretation by a third party.
posted by hoyle at 12:40 PM on March 2


For example: what's "ALUM"? I never found out, but I know it will fuck up an opera singer.

That always had me curious, but I forgot about it for years. Then I happened to get a styptic pencil that announced it contained alum and it reminded me, so I looked it up. It's an astringent, causing skin (or your mouth/throat, in a cartoon) to tighten up.
posted by Four Ds at 5:50 PM on March 2 [5 favorites]


Because of that one Bugs Bunny cartoon, I've been known to say "Leopold! Leopold!" in hushed, respectful tones whenever I hear anyone with that name.

(It took decades before I learned who Leopold actually was.
posted by Archer25 at 8:34 AM on March 3 [3 favorites]


Aww, I'm late to the party I was going to post this. It's impressive just for its breadth!
posted by Wretch729 at 9:15 AM on March 3


Kickass Classical has a great list of pieces by keyword.
posted by dmd at 1:34 PM on March 3


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