Looney Tunes And The Gateway To Classical Music

This morning I had my Ipod on “Shuffle Songs” and the Overture to The Barber of Seville began playing.  As I listened to the music I immediately thought of . . . Bugs Bunny.  Yes, I thought of the classic Looney Tunes cartoon where Bugs and Elmer have an encounter in a barber shop, chasing each other with axes, applying hair restorer, and engaging in other tomfoolery while snippets from the score of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville played.  The actual cartoon is here:

It made me think about how much I learned about classical music, and for that matter a bunch of other things, when UJ and I sat in front the TV on Saturday mornings, watching the Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck comedy hour as we ate our bowls of cereal.  For me, at least, Bugs Bunny cartoons were a gateway to the world of classical music.  I would hear a portion of, say, Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony as background music during a thunderstorm scene and think that it sounded pretty good.  Later, when I began to try to find those pieces and started to regularly listen to classical music, I was amazed at how many portions of classical pieces I had heard before — in cartoons, as theme music for news shows, as music in a commercial, or in some other form of popular culture.  The painless exposure to the songs through popular culture, as opposed to being dragged as a kid to some concert hall, had conditioned me to enjoy and appreciate classical music.

The downside, of course, is that I can’t hear the Overture to The Barber of Seville without thinking of Bugs Bunny, but I suppose that is a small price to pay.

1 thought on “Looney Tunes And The Gateway To Classical Music

  1. Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes were the best. This particular clip is odd, because the music and most of the scene is based on “Barber,” but at the end there is a decorated cake referring to The Marriage of Figaro, which was, of course, the Mozart opera – and has a great theme song of its own.

    Another source of classical music when we were growing up was the old classic horror movies made by Universal Studios in the 30s and 40s. For example, both the original Mummy and Dracula movies (Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi) used Tchaikovsky’s theme from Swan Lake the opening credits. Wagner’s Ride of the Valkaries has been a staple of tv commercials for years – apparently picking up a nautical connotation with some WWII films.

    When we were growing up, Friday night in Columbus was “Chiller Theater” and Saturday evening was Looney Tunes.

    Thank you for the trip down memory lane.


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