Five uses of classical music in cartoons

From Liszt in Tom and Jerry to Leoncavallo's Pagliacci in The Simpsons, here are five memorable uses of classical music in cartoons

Published: October 15, 2019 at 9:53 am

The Cat Concerto


In this 1946 Academy-Award winning Tom and Jerry short film, Liszt’s virtuosic showpiece, the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, provides the musical inspiration for a hilarious cat and mouse skirmish across the grand piano.

What's Opera, Doc?

Bugs Bunny meets Wagner in this six-and-a-half-minute cartoon from 1957 parodying the German composer’s operas. Rabbit-hunter Elmer Fudd singing the words ‘Kill the wabbit’ to the theme from the ‘The Ride of the Valkyries’ is unmissable.


With everything from elephants and ostriches dancing to Ponchielli’s The Dance of the Hours, the creation of the earth accompanied by Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Mickey Mouse doing a turn as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Walt Disney’s 1940 full-length animated film has become a children’s classic.

The Simpsons

When America’s favourite cartoon family head to Italy in The Italian Bob, they stumble across Krusty the Clown performing in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. You may recognise ‘Vesti la giubba’ as the aria sung to the words ‘No more Rice Krispies... we are out of Rice Krispies.'

Peter and the Wolf

The first in Breakthru Films’s projected trilogy of classical music-inspired stop-motion animations (a technique made famous by Aardman Animations’s Wallace and Gromit) brings to life Prokofiev’s characterful orchestral score. With a soundtrack performed by the Philharmonia, Peter and the Wolf won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film in 2008.


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