Classical compositions in cartoons - cartoonist Vincent Alexander identifies iconic pieces in Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, and more

Classical compositions in cartoons - cartoonist Vincent Alexander identifies iconic pieces in Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, and more

If you grew up watching cartoons such as Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry, chances are you are already familiar with a great number of classical compositions even if you are unable to name them. 

Take Hungarian composer Franz Liszt’s 'Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2' for example. As explained by Ohio-based cartoonist and animator Vincent Alexander in a tweet on 2 March, the recognisable piece has accompanied images of beloved characters such as Bugs Bunny and Tom from the Tom and Jerry cartoons playing the piano. 

The tweet was the first in a thread dedicated to helping cartoon lovers identify classical compositions that made frequent appearances in the shows that defined their childhoods. 


Vincent, who wrote, directed, and animated the cartoon Musical Man and the Magic Kazoo, told Bandwagon: "I’m a massive fan of golden-age animation from the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s, and some of my favorite Looney Tunes and MGM shorts involve classical music. I started jotting down some of the most commonly used classical pieces just for my own personal interest, but then I thought other people might be interested too.

According to him, he first noticed the use of classical music in cartoons while watching a comedic scene from a Looney Tunes short involving Bugs Bunny and his adversary Elmer Fudd. 

"I grew up with Looney Tunes cartoons; any time I hear 'The Barber of Seville', I think of Bugs Bunny massaging Elmer Fudd’s head, and if I listen to ['The Flight of The Valkyries' by] Wagner, in my head I hear Elmer Fudd singing, 'Kill da wabbit!' Those cartoons were never meant to be educational, but they taught me a lot about high culture anyway," recounted Vincent.

While doing his research, Vincent developed a newfound appreciation for classical music as well as the musicians behind the pieces that he was looking into.

He recalled: "I was familiar with all of the melodies, but in some cases, I had no idea what the names of the pieces were or who composed them. And compiling the clips together made me newly appreciate how directors like Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng were so brilliant at choreographing the slapstick action to a classical score."

The cartoonist's project was well-received by the Twitter community, with the first tweet amassing over 44,000 retweets and the rest in the series each receiving between hundreds to thousands of retweets. 

His thread has even caught the attention of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Baby Driver director Edgar Wright, who happens to be a Looney Tunes fan.