Tom and Jerry: A Love Story Told Through Classical Music

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Tom and Jerry: A Love Story Told Through Classical Music is a blog that tells the story of Tom and Jerry through the use of classical music.


The Tom and Jerry cartoons are known and loved by people all over the world. What many people don’t know, however, is that there is a deep and rich history behind the music that accompanies these classic cartoons. In this article, we will explore the origins of the music used in Tom and Jerry cartoons, and how it came to be such an integral part of the fabric of these iconic animated shorts.

Tom and Jerry first debuted in 1940, with the release of “Puss Gets the Boot”. The early shorts were produced by MGM, and featured a jazz-inspired score composed by Scott Bradley. These early shorts are characterized by their fast-paced action and chases, which required Bradley’s music to be equally lively and energetic. Over time, the sound of Tom and Jerry’s score would evolve, as the cartoons became increasingly reliant on slapstick humor.

In order to keep up with the changing tone of the shorts, Bradley began incorporating more classical pieces into his score. One of the most famous examples of this is his use of Johann Strauss II’s “The Blue Danube” in the 1941 short “The Yankee Doodle Mouse”. This particular cartoon features a scene in which Jerry conducts an orchestra made up of mice, while Tom unsuccessfully tries to catch him. The use of “The Blue Danube” in this scene is both humorous and clever, perfectly encapsulating the spirit of Tom and Jerry.

As time went on, Bradley continued to experiment with classical pieces, using them both for comedy and for more emotional moments. In 1945’s “Mouse in Manhattan”, he even quoted Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor (‘Choral’) during a touching moment between Tom and Jerry. This marked a departure from the earlier shorts, which were mostly built around jokes and gags. By incorporating classical music into these later cartoons, Bradley was able to add another layer of depth and emotion to them.

The use of classical music in Tom and Jerry cartoons came to define the sound of these beloved characters. The witty incorporation of these pieces added an element of sophistication to the cartoons, elevating them beyond simple entertainment value. It is this attention to detail that has made Tom and Jerry classics that continue to be enjoyed by new generations nearly 80 years after they first appeared on screen.

What is Tom and Jerry?

Tom and Jerry is an American animated series of short films created in 1940 by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. It centers on a rivalry between its two main characters, Tom Cat and Jerry Mouse, and many episodes also feature supporting characters such as Spike the Bulldog and Tyke the Bulldog.

A brief history of the show

Tom and Jerry is an American animated television series created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The series depicts the perpetual conflict between a house cat (Tom) and a mouse (Jerry) whose chases and battles often involved comic violence. Hanna and Barbera reportedly based the show on their own experiences with cats and mice that they encountered while working at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

The series was originally produced as a shorts-only cartoon before eventually being developed into a half-hour show in the 1960s. The show has since been aired in various formats on multiple television networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, The WB, Nickelodeon, Spike, Teletoon, and Cartoon Network. Tom and Jerry has also been adapted into various feature films, four of which were produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions and released to theaters by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

The characters

Tom and Jerry are the main characters in the American animated cartoon series of the same name. The series is produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions (1965-68) and Filmation Associates (1968-72), and centers on a never-ending rivalry between a cat (Tom) and a mouse (Jerry) whose chases and battles often involved comedic violence.

How does classical music fit in?

Though it may seem like an odd pairing at first, Tom and Jerry’s love story is actually quite beautiful when set to classical music. The playful notes of the piano reflect the playfulness of the two cartoon characters while the more solemn strings represent the depth of their love. This contrast creates a fascinating and moving story that can be enjoyed by all.

The music of Tom and Jerry

Classical music has been a staple in the Tom and Jerry cartoons since their inception in 1940. For nearly three quarters of a century, the two characters have been smashing plates, running from angry dogs, and outwitting each other to the tune of some of the most famous pieces ever composed.

In many episodes, such as “Mouse in Manhattan” and “The Cat Concerto”, classical music is used as a main plot device. Other times, it is simply used as background ambiance to set the mood. In either case, the use of classical music in Tom and Jerry cartoons is highly effective and often adds an extra layer of humor or pathos to the story.

Some of the most famous pieces that have been used in Tom and Jerry episodes include “The Barber of Seville” by Gioachino Rossini, “Symphony No. 5” by Ludwig van Beethoven, “The Nutcracker Suite” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and “The Can-Can” by Jacques Offenbach. Each of these pieces has been cleverly used in a way that enhances the action on screen and adds to the overall entertainment value of the cartoon.

In recent years, Tom and Jerry shorts have begun incorporating more contemporary pieces of music into their soundtracks. While classical music will always be associated with the franchise, it is nice to see that new generations of viewers are being exposed to a variety of different styles of music through these timeless cartoon characters.

The use of classical music in the show

Many episodes of Tom and Jerry make use of classical music as part of their soundtrack. This is not surprising, given that the cartoons are often set in aristocratic surroundings and featureihigh-society characters. Furthermore, the use of piano accompaniment in the early episodes mirrors that of many silent films, which also relied heavily on classical music to add emotion and drama to the action on screen.

Some of the most iconic pieces of classical music used in Tom and Jerry include Johann Strauss II’s “The Blue Danube” (most famously used in the episode “Blue Cat Blues”), Gioachino Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” (featured in several episodes, including “Corny Concerto” and “The Cat Concerto”), and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” (used wonderfully in “Jerry’s Cousin”). The use of such well-known pieces helps to add an air of sophistication to the show, elevating it above other cartoons of its time that primarily relied on pop songs or original scores.

In addition to fitting in well with the show’s overall tone and aesthetic, classical music also provides a perfect backdrop for the fast-paced chase scenes that are so central to many Tom and Jerry episodes. The energetic tempos and dramatic phrasing of pieces like Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” add excitement and tension to these scenes, while slower, more lyrical pieces like Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” can be used to create a more peaceful or romantic mood.

No matter what mood or atmosphere the creators were hoping to achieve, it seems likely that they would have been able to find a piece of classical music that would have fit nicely into the episode. The use of such a wide variety of pieces helped to make Tom and Jerry one of the most musically diverse cartoons of its time, and ensured that there was always something new for viewers to enjoy.


A Tom and Jerry cartoon is not complete without a soundtrack of classical music. The fast-paced chases and comic relief are enhanced by the beauty and drama of the music.

Over the years, the Tom and Jerry shorts have featured pieces by some of the most well-known composers in history, including Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Rossini, Strauss, and Brahms. The use of classical music in these cartoons creates a unique experience that is both entertaining and educational.

Whether you are a long-time fan of Tom and Jerry or just discovering these classic shorts for the first time, we hope you enjoy watching them with a new understanding and appreciation for the brilliant music that brings them to life.

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