Composers Datebook®

New Looney Tunes

Composers Datebook - May 27, 2024


Many baby boomers confess their introduction to classical music was via classic Warner Brothers Loony Tunes cartoons featuring the likes of Bugs Bunny. Okay, in those cartoons, classical music was parodied, but it was done with great wit and affection — and the tunes in those ‘toons stuck in your memory.

Well, on today’s date in 2020, a new series of Looney Tunes cartoons began streaming online with the launch of HBO Max. Bugs was back, and so were the parodies of classical music.

Joshua Moshier was one of the composers charged with scoring those new Looney Tunes.

“It was certainly intimidating,” he said in an NPR interview.

“There are cartoons like the Road Runner and the Coyote where there’s no dialogue except for a few ‘meep meeps’. But then you realize, ‘Oh — the dialogue is the music.’ The Coyote’s dialogue is the low meandering bassoon. For the Road Runner, we referenced ‘The Dance of the Comedians’.”

“Looney Tunes … are caricatures,” Moshier said, “and that allows the music itself to be a caricature. It’s a joy [for a composer] to participate in the comedy in such an overt way and be part of what’s making people laugh.”

Music Played in Today's Program

Joshua Moshier (b. 1986): Excerpts from ‘Buzzard School,’ and ‘TNT Trouble’; Studio orchestra; Joshua Moshier, conductor; From ‘Looney Tunes Cartoons Original Soundtrack: Music by Joshua Moshier and Carl Johnson’ digital album

Carl Stalling (1891-1972): ‘The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down’ (arr. Carl Johnson); Studio orchestra; Carl Johnson, conductor; From ‘Looney Tunes Cartoons Original Soundtrack: Music by Joshua Moshier and Carl Johnson’ digital album

On This Day


  • 1799 - French opera composer Jacques-François-Fromental-Elie Halévy, in Paris

  • 1822 - German composer Joseph Joachim Raff, in Lachen, near Zürich

  • 1888 - French composer and member of “Les Six,” Louis Durey, in Paris

  • 1922 - German-born American composer Margaret Buechner, in Hannover

  • 1928 - Scottish composer Thea Musgrave, in Edinburgh


  • 1840 - Italian composer and violinist Nicollo Paganini, 57, in Nice


  • 1899 - Ravel: Shéhérazade (Fairy Overture), at a Societe Nationale Concert at the Salle du Nouveau-Thèâtre in Paris

  • 1906 - Mahler: Symphony No. 6, in Essen, with the composer conducting

  • 1947 - Martinu: Symphony No. 5, in Prague

  • 1976 - Dello Joio: Colonial Variants for orchestra, in Philadelphia

  • 1981 - Bernstein: Halil for Flute and Orchestra, in Tel Aviv, with the Israel Philharmonic conducted by the composer, with Jean-Pierre Rampal the soloist

  • 1995 - Libby Larsen: Ring of Fire for orchestra, by the Charlotte Symphony (North Carolina), Peter McCoppin conducting

  • 2001 - Saariaho: Song for Betty, dedicated to the 80-year old music patron, Betty Freeman, by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting. See May 25 & 26 as well.

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About Composers Datebook®

Host John Birge presents a daily snapshot of composers past and present, with timely information, intriguing musical events and appropriate, accessible music related to each.

He has been hosting, producing and performing classical music for more than 25 years. Since 1997, he has been hosting on Minnesota Public Radio's Classical Music Service. He played French horn for the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra and performed with them on their centennial tour of Europe in 1995. He was trained at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Eastman School of Music and Interlochen Arts Academy.

About Composers Datebook®