Pop culture associations with classical music

I leave my TV tuned to WNED Classical when I go out so my cat doesn’t get lonely. When I got home from the store this afternoon, they were playing “March of the Toreadors” from Carmen. I immediately thought “Oh, Gilligan’s Island, cool!”

The “William Tell Overture” automatically makes me think of the Lone Ranger, of course. When I hear “Ride of the Valkyries,” I start singing “Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit, hahahaha!”

Aside from “Also Sprach Zarathustra” and 2001, can you think of any others?

Good Lord, there are tons of them.

My wife, Pepper Mill, invariably links The Blue Danube with the Bob Clampett Warner Brothers cartoon Corny Concerto "Quack Quack Quack QuacxkQuack Quack Quack!

I, of course, think of 2001.

The Wiliam Tell overture is pretty long, with multiple parts. The “Morning” section of it was used in a LOT of Warner Brothers cartoons. as for the “Lone Ranger” part, I associate it with A Clockwork Orange.

The various musical pieces associated with \Fantasia, Fantasia 2000, and Corny Concerto are effectively ruined.

The Estudiantina Waltz, by Emile Waldteufel, is for me indelibly associated with the commercials for Rheingold Beer.

Waldteufel’s Skater’s Waltz is commonly used in any depiction of ice skating.

The first thing I think of is Apocalypse Now.

I didn’t realize for many years that the theme used by Alfred Hitchcock was an actual, pre-existing piece of music, Gounod’s Funeral March of a Marionette
Aaron Copland’s Rodeo now invariably makes me think “Beef – It’s what’s for Dinner.”

Besides “Kill the Wabbit”, Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries brings up associations with Apocalypse Now, and, mostly through that, scenes from Watchmen.

Ravel’s Bolero used to make people think of Bo Derek and 10, but I think that’s fading now. For a bunch of animation freaks, it make them think of Allegro non Troppo.


Tchaikovsky’s “Piano Concerto No. 1” makes me think of (a) Terry Jones’ escape artist and (b) “You’re in Love, Charlie Brown.”

Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance always makes me think of a guy rushing to keep multiple plates spinning on the ends of long sticks

My earliest association is with an old Friskies Buffet cat food commercial. I cannot unhear it to this day. Maybe not a coincidence it’s the brand I feed my cats.


Borodin’s Prince Igor makes me think of the “Music Masterpieces” commercial with John Williams (the actor) and the “Polovetsian Dance No. 2.”

One of the most frequently heard classical pieces must be the Bridal Chorus from Wagner’s Lohengrin, aka “Here Comes the Bride.”

So was part of Franz von Suppe’s (I love that name!) “Light Cavalry March”:

Starts here around the 2:08 mark.

The other “Wedding March” is from Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

I can never hear Wagner's "Meistersinger of Nuremburg" without thinking of the opening scenes of Riefenstahl's ***Triumph of the Will***.


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The other “Wedding March” is from Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

I can never hear Wagner's "Meistersinger of Nuremburg" without thinking of the opening scenes of Riefenstahl's ***Triumph of the Will***.

Curiously enough, it’s the only music (except for the opening credits) in the 1931 Dracula
The opening music was Swan Lake, which someone at Universal decided was the epitome of “creepy” music. So they used it for the opening credits for The Mummy, as well.

WBs’ “Mynah Bird Song” is from Mendelssohn’s The Hebrides.


Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody #2 makes me think of McDonald’s breakfast.

Here is Tchaikovsky’s “Piano Concerto No. 1.” The Terry Jones part is at the beginning, and the Charlie Brown part starts around the 21:30 mark:


More Wagner. If you want background music for a storm at sea, you’ll use the Overture from The Flying Dutchman.

Part of Khachaturian’s “Adagio from Spartacus” served as the theme for the British TV series The Onedin Line.