Which American composer introduced classical music to the most kids?
If you said Leonard Bernstein and his Young People’s Concerts, I’d argue he comes in at a distant No. 2 behind Carl Stalling.
Stalling was a prolific American composer whose orchestral music reached millions in those classic Warner Brothers cartoons featuring Bugs Bunny and his Merrie Melodies.
His work is instantly recognizable and yet almost no one knows his name.
He wrote the music for some of Walt Disney’s earliest animation, and then spent 22 years working every day with a 50-piece orchestra at Warner Bros. Studios. He ultimately scored in excess of 600 cartoons at the rate of one score per week between 1936 and 1958.
Stalling borrowed melodies from everyone but said that 80 to 90 percent of the music he wrote was original because it had to be carefully timed to match the specific action on the screen.
For those of us who grew up watching Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd and those classic Warner Bros. cartoons, the music was often our introduction to the sound of an orchestra and the doorway into classical music.
Here is an entertaining visual reminder of how good (and fun) his work is: