Ep. 133: What’s the connection between classic cartoons and classical music? with Dr. Daniel Goldmark

Tom and Jerry cartoon music

Image by Praveen Raj from Pixabay 

There are generations of kids who first became familiar with classical music through cartoons. What were considered the “golden years” of cartoon music, and why was classical music heavily used in cartoons during this time? How has classical music’s role in cartoons changed throughout the decades?


My guest today is Daniel Goldmark, author of many books, including The Cartoon Music Book, and Tunes for ‘Toons: Music and the Hollywood Cartoon. Daniel is Director of Center for Popular Music Studies at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. He also spent several years working in the animation and music industries in Los Angeles, where he produced several collections and anthologies, including a two-CD set of the music of Tom & Jerry composer Scott Bradley.


We discuss:

  • How Dr. Goldmark first became aware of and interested in classical music, or cartoon music, or realized there was an overlap between the two.
  • Cartoon music’s birth (1920s) and golden years (1940s and ’50s).
  • WHY was classical music used in cartoons during this time?
  • Classical music’s role in cartoons.
  • The term “mickey-mousing,” the exact synchronization of music and action.
  • Classical music’s use in more recent decades, and its current use in animated series and films.

Connect/Other Resources

In-Episode Promo

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Closing Words

Thanks so much to Dr. Goldmark for sharing with us about this fun topic today. There are links in the show to his books. I’ve also included a link to a Twitter thread by cartoonist Vincent Alexander that has millions of views. It identifies some of the frequent classical pieces that popped up in old cartoons and is quite entertaining to watch, and also a trip down memory lane that may bring back some memories for you and may help you realize how many of these songs by composers like Liszt and Mozart you are familiar with because of your childhood Saturday mornings!

All links from today’s episode – including a transcript of this episode – can be found in the show notes. All links are also in the episode details right in your podcast app. While you’re there, I would love to hear from you! Tell me if you have any favorite connections between classical pieces and cartoons or animated films. You can reach me on email (mindy@mpetersonmusic.com), Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. 

Thank you so much for joining me today. Until next time, may your life be enhanced with music.

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