How lucky we were to grow up with these wonderful cartoons! They are the reason we are familiar with classical music. However, that wasn't all. They are not just using classical music as a background music, there was some serious amusements, references and synchronation going on. Now, let's see with our grown up eyes to see and understand those references and appreciate the work the producers do!
Let's have a huge throwback together. Here is the 15 cartoons the classical music used cleverly, intentionally and wonderfully.
1. Rabbit of Seville
This is an episode where Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd found themselves in the production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia. The overture of the opera is wonderfully animated when Bugs Bunny shaves Elmer Fudd. The melodies of Rossini is playfully used, especially in the chasing scene.
My favorite part is when thu overture turns into Midnight Summer's Dream (Wedding March) of Mendelssohn for a brief moment. After that, they fall into a cake written ''The Marriage of Figaro'' which is composed as a sequel to Barber of Seville by Mozart.
2. Rhapsody Rabbit
Buggs Bunny as a pianist. There are so many little clever jokes and amusement in those cartoons clearly thought by a classical music fan. Before the concert starts, Bugs Bunny kills an audience who keeps caughing - a thing I wanted to do many times.
He's playing Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No.2. But when he get a call during the concert - he says that ''Franz Liszt? Never heard of him.''. After that he plays a short excerp from Barber of Seville - Largo al factatum and sings Fi-ga-ro, fi-ga-ro.
Then the perfect scene of Bugs Bunny playing the piece. You can see the melody and the performer's point of view while he plays, since most of the tricky parts are amusingly stated. Then he and mouse plays the piece where mouse hits the right notes and the right time as if unknowingly. In a moment. mouse makes him to swicth to a jazz tune.
At the end, just when Bugs Bunny was finishing the piece, mouse takes over and make a manificant end. Bugs Bunny - sad to miss the glamour - finish the piece with three simple note.
3. What's Opera, Doc?
Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd are in the Wagnerian world. It is mostly Die Walkure from the Ring Cycle.
Elmer Fudd represents the demigod Siegfried. Elmer Fudd sings the ''kill the wabbit'' with the melody of ''Ride of the Valkyries''. Bugs Bunny asks him ''What's up, doc?'' in the theme of Siegfried's horn. Elmer explains his magic helmet in the melody of the overture of The Flying Dutchman. And at the end, he realizes that was the rabbit. The chase has began. But the rabbit comes in a Valkyrie Brünnhilde disguise. They sing set to the Pilgrim's Choir theme appeared in the overture of Tannhauser. They perform a short ballet which is based upon Venusberg ballet (Tannhauser). They sing ''Return My Love'' again set to the another section of Tannhauser overture. When rabbit's true identity comes out, Elmer was furious, he make orders to his helmet while background music is The Flying Dutchman. The rabbit was killed. Elmer was very sad and he regrets what he has done. Rabbit can be the Valhalla of the Wagnerian world here, some say. While Elmar caries the body of the rabbit, Bugs Bunny raises his head and say ''Well, what did you expect in an opera? A happy ending?".
This made me laugh so hard, because I knew that Bugs Bunny is not dead, but he raised and said that and contunue to be dead. he was like - yes, I am still dead, even Bugs Bunny episode can be full of surprises in the world of Wagner.
Well, this is clearly a tribute to Wagner. Again, well done.
4. A Long Haired Hare
In this episode, Bugs Bunny distrups the famous opera singer Giovanni Jones who practise Largo al Factatum from Barber of Seville. While rabbit do his own music, opera singer beats Bugs Bunny that leads Bunny to comment on opera singer as ''music hater''. After a few times, opera singer makes Bunny really angry, that was very dangerous for him. In the concert, of course Bugs Bunny takes his revenge. It was hilarious to see the opera singer getting smaller at each ''Figaro'' :)
Bunny after distrubting singer's voice, exploding him with a dynamide, he comes as a Leopold Stokowski to the orchestra pit, where every performer shows his respect to him. Leopold Stokowski was known for his baton-less conducting since he thought it limit the hand gestures. This lead the inventional batonless conducting style. However, some critics criticized him for his gestures not to be seen by singers in opera house. When Bugs Bunny comes to the pit, first thing he do is to divide the baton into a half and throwing it out. This was a perfect reference to him. Then he made the singer sing very high pitches, made him jump octaves and hold the tone very long. He always get his revenge.
5. The Cat Concerto
The Cat Concerto, realised in 1947, won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. While it is considered to be best cartoon episode ever, as you noticed it is very very similar to the Rhapsody Rabbit. They accused each other with plagirism, it is still not clear who had the first original idea, although Rhapsody Rabbit has an earlier reliease date.
It is again Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 by Liszt played by Tom while getting distruptions by Jerry.
6. Music Land - Silly Symphonies
It is a forbidden love story between violin from Symhony Land and a saxaphone from Jazz land. This love initiates a war between two different lands. Eventually, music wons and both land comes to the piece.
Land of Symphony uses Beethoven's Eroica and Wagner's Flight of the Valkyries. However, please pay attention to the voices the instruments make, it is very fun!
7. A Corny Concerto
It takes place in Carny-gea Hall (Carnegie Hall). Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No.1 is heard at the opening credits. Elmer Fudd presents the concert program. He explained the ''Tales from the Vienna Woods'' as "And as we hear the whythmic stwains of the haunting wefwain, wisten to the wippwing whythm of the woodwinds, as it wolls awound and awound, and it comes out here..."
Tales of Vienna Woods by Johann Strauss II is the first part. In this part we have Bugs Bunny using his brain not to be hunted by Porky Pig.
The second part is the Blue Danube. Now we have a story from the Ugly Duckling. We see the Baby Dufy Duck saving the swans in this part. Blue Danube is the perfect tune to see the swans glide.
8. Rhapsody in Rivets
Another cartoon tuned by Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 by Liszt. You see, it is very popular :)
Again very amazing animation.. We see a construction taking place perfectly synchronized to the piece.
9. Baton Bunny
In this one, Bugs Bunny conducts the A Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna by Franz von Suppe. You see, this is the third cartoon the conductor is disturbed by the cough from the audience, so this is clearly an issue for classical music concerts. Bunny puts a sign that says ''Throw the bum out!", and the audience takes care of the cough themselves this time. Then the bunny is disturbed first by a fly, then a cuffs that keeps sliding off. A fly comes to his nose and he crashed the orchestra. At the end, there is no applause; only a fly applouds.
10. Pigs in a Polka
Three Little Pigs accompanied by Hungarian Dances No. 5, 7, 6 and 17.
11. Carmen Get It
Tom chases Jerry to the Metropolitan Opera Carmen production. Tom plays the violin -actually there is a recording of Carmen in the violin - with his cheese scented bow. Of course, Jerry finds a way for punishing Tom. The best part I love is when the Jerry gets into the conductors jacket and orchestra plays exactly as the conductor conducts and it sounds like a jazz version of Carmen. Usually in other cartoons orchestra plays normally no matter what, so this one I really liked.
When Tom starts to conduct the opera due to Jenny's acts, the tunes are changing rapidly due to the changing notes. When the soprano was ready to sing the famous Habanera, she saws Jerry and screams. Than Tom comes to the stage, and become the matador (thanks to Jerry, again). We hear the matador theme from the opera.
12. Pink, Plunk, Plink
This time we are in a different angle. Pink Panther disruptes the Beethoven 5th performance by playing the Pink Panther tune in different instruments.
13. Bugs Bunny Rides Again
Here we have Bugs Bunny against Yosemite Sam. We have the William Tell's Overture of Rossini in the opening credits and also in the chasing scene which is perfectly animated.
14. Hayde and Hare
Bugs Bunny plays the Chopin's Minute Waltz when Dr. Jekyll turns into Mr. Hyde. Bugs Bunny pronounce the Chopin as ''Choppin'', and he also pronounce minute differently.
15. Holywood Bowl
Tom conducts the overture of The Fledermaus. First thing to appreciate is the joy Tom gets from the music. His facial gestures is incredible, even though he gets angry to Jerry, he can continue to enjoying the music.
When we were a child, most of us supported Jerry while Tom was suffering most of the time. Here too we can see Tom trying to keep the show going while Jerry does everything to interrupt it. It was lovely to see Tom playing all the instruments.
That's all folks!
by Ece Demirel