Saturday Morning Cartoons

Friday, February 11, 2011 - 08:23 PM

We are playing classical music from a Saturday Morning Cartoon today at 9:00 am. The music is Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. It has been used most memorably in Rhapsody Rabbit, a Bug's Bunny Warner Brother's cartoon from 1946:
But you might also enjoy the 1954 Woody Woodpecker cartoon using the same music:
One of my favorite cartoons, or, er, animations using classical music is the Pines of Rome section from Fantasia 2000. It is a stunning example of sparkling music mixed with a delightful fantasy story:

There is a rich history of classical music used in shorts, and now feature animated works. What are your favorites?

Editor's note: for a cartoon of recent vintage, also see The Simpsons' episode "The Italian Bob" (2005), with Krusty the Clown's epic performance of Pagliacci:


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Comments [31]

Lilly Knuth from Garden City South

Love the feature Saturday morning cartoons. What wonderful memories they bring. Keep them coming.

Jan. 29 2012 11:51 AM
Donald A from out of state

Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody #2 is
featured in a brilliant WB cartoon,
"Rhapsody in Rivets" in which the construction of a skyscraper is "orchestrated" (without dialogue) to Liszt's masterpiece. The project manager/conductor stands at a drawing board/podium with his blueprints/musical score in front of him.

Jul. 02 2011 11:03 PM
Al Luna from Bronx, NY

Okay, I confess, the reason I will never, ever, be able to watch (and listen) some operas is my fear that Elmur Fudd will flash across my subconscious mind and manifest itself into a fit of uncontrollable laughter!!!!! I would do Elaine proud!

Mar. 28 2011 03:07 PM
Judy Stadt from Spring Valley NY

I'm grateful for the fact that I retain a vast knowledge of Classical music to this day, many years later, solely because Mozart & Bach etc. was the music played in the old cartoons. I feel that my grandchildren are missing out on that way of passive learning of the great masters of music.

Mar. 25 2011 12:43 PM
Joe R from NYC

In honor of "Lucia di Lammermoor", currently at the Met, here's Sylvester the Cat singing all of the parts from the sextet in "Back Alley Oproar."
(It's towards the end of the cartoon.)

Mar. 18 2011 09:53 AM
Susan Yates from Croton-on-Hudson, NY

Sorry ... a senior moment. My apologies to Paul Dukas and also to Mussorgsky.

Mar. 07 2011 01:24 PM
MIchael Meltzer

Ms. Yates:
Mickey and the buckets were in "Sorcerer's Apprentice."

Mar. 03 2011 07:18 PM
Susan Yates from Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.

P.S. Do you really think of "Fantasia" as a cartoon. I'm not sure it qualifies as such. Of course animanted and, of course, musical, but somehow ... However, whenever I hear "Night on Bald Mountain" I see Mickey, the buckets and those unending torrents.

Mar. 02 2011 05:56 PM
Susan Yates from Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.

Loved "What's Opera, Doc?" and the "Long-Haired Hare" many, many years ago. Elmer and Bugs still break me up as Siegfried and Brunhilde.

Mar. 02 2011 05:50 PM
Michael Meltzer

Joe's comment is interesting, because the animators and producers of sixty years ago had no clue that their work would still be current in the next century, all they thought about was doing a good job at the moment, like the craftsmen building town-houses at the turn of the 20th century.
That's where classics come from.

Feb. 23 2011 08:26 PM
Joe from New York

I was born in 1991 so these cartoons are way older than me but growing up, I watched all of them and still enjoy watching. Few people in my generation enjoy classical music. They prefer to listen to that Lady Gaga crap.

Feb. 23 2011 11:34 AM
Phyllis Sharpe from Teaneck, NJ

Disney productions did familiarize young audiences with classical music. In Pinochio (the film) I think the music at night in Gephetto's workshiop is The Musical Snuffbox. My grandson and I still watch Tom and Jerry (Looney Tunes) and the Liszt Hungarian rhapsody #2.

Feb. 21 2011 06:16 PM
Michael Meltzer

According to Wiki, "Make Mine Music" had indeed been nicknamed "the poor man's Fantasia." Willie the Whale's voice was provided by legendary operetta baritone Nelson Eddy, whom we remember as a duo with Jeanette MacDonald. Of special note, "Make Mine Music" was where Disney introduced his classic animated "Peter and the Wolf," narrated by actor Sterling Holloway.

Feb. 20 2011 12:12 AM
Michael Meltzer

Willie the Whale was the finale, I recall, of a Disney animation called "Make Mine Music," which the web says was1946. Willie was a very sad story, they thought he had swallowed an opera singer and killed him, but he wound up singing in heaven. When I saw it it was first-run, and probably a follow up to Fantasia, which was just a couple of years before my time.

Feb. 19 2011 03:13 PM
elsa grotefendt from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

You made my day today with
"Madame Upanova" ... I'm still smiling

Feb. 19 2011 11:18 AM
Elaine Stillerman from Brooklyn, NY

"Willy the Operatic Whale" had three vocal registers - tenor, baritone, and bass. What a talent! I do remember the "Mefistofele" aria, but there were others. It was a cartoon from he 30-s I think - before my time - but I did see it. It is totally delightful.

Feb. 19 2011 09:06 AM
Teddy R from Staten Island, NY

When I open the shop in the morning my first priority is to turn on wqxr. I've been trying to keep it on for the day but the bosses don't like my music choice much. The only time it stays on till 12 noon is when I tell them which music is from what Warner Brothers cartoon it is from. We talk about the particular cartoon it is from for awhile and then they change the dial. So far the most it has lasted is noon. Please help me to change that by playing a few more toons...hehehe, a little joke there but sriously please help. I'm not into hip-hop or rock and metal music and could use all the help I can get. Thank you so much and keep it coming.

Feb. 15 2011 07:43 PM
Michael Meltzer

Gregg from Astoria:
There are specific equivalences. Liszt exercised some business acumen and, together with Franz Doppler, orchestrated 6 of the Hungarian Rhapsodies for publication. #1 for orch. is #14 for piano, #2 for orch. is #12 for piano, #3 is #6 for piano, #4 is #2 for piano, #5 is also #5, and #6 is #9 for piano.

Feb. 15 2011 09:17 AM
concetta Nardone from Elmont, NY

To Joe R from NY, the Whats opera doc also had "Oh Brunhilde you're so lovely. Yes I know it I cant help it." Lots of fun. I remember the Saturday morning shows at the movies whereby 20 cartoons would be shown along with the feature film.

Feb. 15 2011 09:11 AM
Gregg from Astoria Queens

I'm surprised that Mr. Forrest didn't add that when that work was orchestrated it broke the numerations applied by Franz Lizt.

So naturally Tom Cat and his friends put on the orchestrated version of "Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody". Normally for the piano it would be his second, but after orchestration it could be any.

Feb. 15 2011 08:34 AM
Ed from NYC

There is a Bugs Bunny cartoon that uses a couple of Chopin preludes (the "Raindrop" prelude, and also the C minor), in which Bugs' hole is flooded, and he floats downstream until he is netted by an evil scientist (voiced by Vincent Price), who wants Bugs' brain.

Feb. 14 2011 04:02 PM
concetta nardone from Elmont, NY

I have often wondered what kind of kids these cartoons were meant for. Not the brain-dead younger generation we have today. I would watch these cartoons with my two sons. Occasionally rent dvds from Net Flex. I am old but really enjoy these cartoons. And the music was great in some of the cartoons. I remember one whereby two mice were in a library and on the shelf was a book about giants and the music of the giant brothers from Das Rheingold was played.

Feb. 14 2011 01:23 PM
Joe R from NYC

Thinking on this subject stirs up some old memories. I just remembered having once seen an old Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoon where he actually helps the ghost of Franz Schubert to finish the "Unfinished" Symphony!

Feb. 13 2011 09:36 AM
Michael Meltzer

Correction: As I google the Sons of the Pioneers, they turn out to have been a sextet. There are some neat downloads there.

Feb. 12 2011 07:58 PM
Barry Owen Furrer

Many thanks to Bugs Bunny enthusiasts Joe R from NYC and Mike Kent for allowing me to have a restful night!

Feb. 12 2011 07:54 PM
Michael Meltzer

In 1948 at age 10, I was too young to know what the music was in the "20 Cartoons-20" that we got for 20 cents on Saturday morning, then went to 25 cents, but I thought it was exciting. We also got a chapter of a serial, like "Dick Tracy Meets Cueball," and a full length Gene Autry or Roy Rogers movie. Gene Autry was a better singer than Roy Rogers but Roy Rogers had a really good quartet, The Sons of the Pioneers. I remember their singing vividly.

Feb. 12 2011 07:49 PM

I would have first seen this in the late 1950's, in the Bronx, on a black and white television.

A Corny Concerto (at Corny-gie Hall):

Feb. 12 2011 03:21 PM
Joe R from NYC

The Stokowski portrayal is in a cartoon called "Long-Haired Hare". Remember, how some of the orchestra members whispered the name "Leopold" in awe as Bugs comes up to the podium?
These cartoons also had great last lines. "Whats, Opera Doc?": As Sigfried/Fudd carries away the dead wabbit, Bugs looks up and says, "Well, what did you expect in an opera, a happy ending?"
Or in "The Rabbit of Seville": "Ehhhh, NEXT!"

Feb. 12 2011 09:26 AM
Mike Kent

Bugs parodies Stokowski in "Long-Haired Hare" (1948).

Feb. 12 2011 09:20 AM
Barry Owen Furrer

Mr. Forrest has taken me on a trip down memory lane! Oh, those Saturday morning cartoon classics! What impressed me, even as a child was the incredible musicianship of the Warner Bros. studio orchestra and those wonderful orchestrations of Carl Stalling. "What's Opera, Doc?" and "The Rabbit of Seville" still rank high on my Bugs Bunny list. Memory fails me on the title when Bugs portrayed Stokowski at the Hollywood Bowl. The music on Johnny Quest was memorable as well.

Feb. 11 2011 09:58 PM

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