Classical Music

Classical Classroom, Ep. 145: Cartoon Classical Confidential With Richard Scerbo

How cartoons brought classical music to new audiences while making merciless fun of it.

Richard Scerbo
Richard Scerbo

This is serious, people. Classical music has a long and meaningful history in cartoons that is no laughing matter. Just kidding! There is a really long history, but it is hilarious, and so is this episode. Richard Scerbo, Director of the National Orchestral Institute and Festival and founder and artistic director of the DC-based and Grammy-nominated Inscape Chamber Orchestra, takes us on a tour of that history. Find out the practical, social, and financial reasons behind Looney Tunes use of classical music, and how cartoons both poked fun at the music and made it fresh for new audiences. Hear examples of the classical music the cartoons draw from and examples of how the music was rearranged to suit the needs of Porky and Bugs. And, um, that’s not all, folks.

Music in this episode:

  • The Bartered Bride (Dance of the Comedians) by Bedrich Smetana
  • “Zoom and Bored” (Warner Bros. cartoon featuring Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner)
  • Hungarian Rhapsody No2 by Franz List
  • “Rhapsody in Rivets” (Warner Bros. cartoon)
  • “A Corny Concerto” (Warner Bros. cartoon narrated by Elmer Fudd)

  • The Blue Danube by Johann Strauss II
  • Tales from the Vienna Woods by Johann Strauss II
  • “Ride of the Valkeries” from Die Walküre by Richard Wagner
  • “Kill the Wabbit” from What’s Opera, Doc? (Warner Bros. cartoon featuring Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny)

Audio production by Mark “The Martian” DiClaudio and Todd “Tweety” Hulslander with onomatopoeia by Dacia Clay.  

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Dacia Clay

Dacia Clay

Host/Producer, Classical Classroom; Web Editor, Arts & Culture

Dacia began her career in public radio as the Audio Librarian for Houston Public Media (then KUHF) in 2009. She earned her Master of Library Science degree from the University of North Texas' School of Library and Information Science, where she focused on special collections (thanks to the sage advice...

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