How I Learned Classical Music from Cartoons and TV
By David Henderson
One of my favorite professors at the University of Western Ontario when I took a year of advanced undergrad and one grad economics classes there in 1971-72 was John Palmer.
John posted a graphic today showing that a large percent of Americans got their exposure to classical music from cartoons. That’s true of me too.
Here’s what I wrote in Chapter 8, “The Joy of Capitalism” in my book The Joy of Freedom: An Economist’s Odyssey:
How I Got Culture
A stereotype that many intellectuals hold strongly is that television and radio are the enemies of culture. Yet, popular television and radio shows gave me my earliest experience of classical music. I, like most other Americans over age 45, first heard Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” as the theme song to the radio program, and later the television show, “The Lone Ranger.” When my brother Paul and I used to hear it on the radio, we would gallop around the house, hitting our own backsides with our hands to spur on our imaginary horses, which is one reason I will never forget the “William Tell Overture.” Of course, it wasn’t until I was in college that I bought the record and heard the whole overture, but I never would have been interested in it had it not been for the radio and TV programs.
Similarly, my interest in Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville” was first piqued by a Bugs Bunny cartoon in which Bugs, to the tune of Rossini’s opera, sings:
Let me cut your mop,
Let me save your crop,
Ooooh, you’re next.
Yoouur’e so next.
Phil Magness points out that the following Elmer Fudd cartoon, “Kill the Rabbit,” has Wagner’s music.