The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (314): Cats kill concerto

The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (314): Cats kill concerto


norman lebrecht

February 21, 2021


  • Bob says:

    I can’t even count how many hours of piano practice this piece inspired. I was pretty young the first time I saw it, and finally learned it around 17 or 18 years old.

  • J Barcelo says:

    That’s another reason young people today don’t care about or even know much about classical music: the cartoons from the golden age all utilized classical music – the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2 was a particular favorite. But for about the past 50 years cartoons are just awful. The music is miserable. The great cartoons, from Disney, Warner, Hanna Barbera, Walter Lantz and others understood the power and importance of music like modern producers can’t fathom.

    • mel says:

      Most of the exposure younger people get now are from dodgy adverts. Currently popular in the US is a butchered version of the Marriage of Figaro overture for an “E” commerce company (don’t want to get sued) and the 4th movement of Dvorak’s 9th blaring as a bin liner full of coffee (?!) is held on top of a sofa…aren’t you glad?

      I guess that’s still better than a certain Johnny Cash song that a company wanted to use to flog piles cream…

    • Petors Linardos says:

      I see more competition in instantly gratifying electronic games.

      • Mystic Chord says:

        Let’s not get too depressed about kids not appreciating stuff like this – my son for example adores this cartoon, studies both piano and violin at a good level and enjoys video games.

        For me, this cartoon is a moment of genius.

    • JussiB says:

      I hear a 7-Eleven store used classical music to repel riff-raffs and transients from the property. It really worked!

    • Greg Bottini says:

      You are so right, J Barcelo!
      And I’d go even a bit farther back and say cartoons from the last *60* years are just awful.

    • Novagerio says:

      Barceló, and the Bugs Bunny-Stokovski cartoon, where all musicians say in awe “Oh, Leopold!” – while Bugs Bunny enters the stage as Stokovski. In those days, it was expected that the common man knew who Stokie was. The tenor being manipulated like a marionette by “the Stokie-force” in that parody represented by the way Lauritz Melchior.
      Same thing many years later, when Dudley Moore and Jonathan Miller do the “Little Miss Muffet”-act in a 100% Brittenesque fashion, followed by a Kurt Weill parody of equal accuracy. Again, then it was expected that the common man knew who Beethoven, Britten and Weill were. That’s unfortunately completely unthinkable today.

  • NYMike says:

    Still laughing 70+ years later.

  • JussiB says:

    I love Rossini’s Cat Duet.

  • E says:

    Hilarious! These black cats with a white front are known as « tuxedo cats »!

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Bugs Bunny is also very good in this piece, and even manages to shoot dead a coughing member of the audience.

    Among its other virtues this Tom and Jerry cartoon makes impressive use of Technicolor.

  • This is useful information. “The piano playing of Tom the cat was dubbed by Scott Bradley (the Musical Director of MGM’s Animation Department) who also made the special arrangement of Liszt’s 2nd Hungarian Rhapsody. In some passages, to make it sound extra difficult and impossible for the cat to play while dealing with Jerry, it is arranged for 4 hand piano duet, and this is played by Bradley and John Crown, Head of Piano at University of Southern California in the 1940s and 50s.”

  • Tony Fogg says:

    And a little-known detail: the pianist on the soundtrack was the 17 year-old Andre Previn.

  • Notice the odd staging. A soloist on a stage in front of a curtain with the orchestra (presumably) in a “pit” below.

    That isn’t Carnegie Hall or any normal classical concert venue. That is vaudeville. That would be a very common staging of a musical soloist in vaudeville, classical or otherwise.

    What we see in this cartoon is the artists’ notions of what classical music looks like, having only witnessed it in vaudeville.

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    Lang Lang in interviews often mentions this very cartoon being a great influence in his childhood

  • yujafan says:

    This brings back nothing but happy memories, thank you. My youth was spent devouring animations like this from the “golden age” – they don’t make them like this any more!

  • Una says:

    Wonderful! Start the Week with T&J!

  • No wonder The Telegraph writes about downgrading of Radio 3. Here in Belgium classical radio Klara too pushes Max Richter, John Williams, Enaudi… And Arvo Pärt won the Top 100. Nothing against Pärt, but after years of listening, I’ve enough of his “Fratres” and “Spiegel”…
    And with Covid it’s going worse!

  • jobim75 says:

    I am just struck to notice how popular culture was not cut from learned culture and that it was possible to navigate from one to another and bridges existed. Today, so many archipelagos and so few bridges……

  • Nick2 says:

    There were several cartoons based on classical music which are mostly extremely clever. The Cat Concerto actually won an Oscar, but there is also the Bugs Bunny version of the same piece Rhapsody Rabbit. My favourite is Tom and Jerry at the Hollywood Bowl performing the Die Fledermaus overture. Others will prefer What’s Opera, Doc? or The Rabbit of Seville.