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"American movie makers have always held a deep reverence for composers whose works lie in the public domain."
Cecil Adams

Classical music and folk songs seem to show up an awful lot as background music. Sometimes it conveys culture or time period. Sometimes they just sound cool or appropriate. Sometimes the answer lies in legalities. There's just less red tape in the public domain.

Music in the public domain has no need to license the melody or a Suspiciously Similar Song. There has also been an emergence of free music, some of which even has a free license for commercial use.

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See the Sub-Trope: Amazing Freaking Grace.

For those pieces with well-entrenched meanings, see Standard Snippet. Rock Me, Amadeus! is a related trope where classical music (public domain or otherwise) gets sampled or remixed.

For music that is copyrighted but still used in a work it didn't originate from, see Recycled Soundtrack.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Violinist of Hameln - the whole manga revolves around Classical music.
  • The founder of anime as we know it, Osamu Tezuka, based two animated works on this trope. His 1966 Pictures at an Exhibition is an animated interpretation of Musorgsky's suite of the same name. And his last (and unfinished) animated work, "Legend of the forest'', is a Tear Jerker story (coupled with a history of animation itself) set to Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony (Tezuka apparently intended to animate the entire symphony, but only the First and Fourth Movements were completed before Author Existence Failure).
  • The final episode of Irresponsible Captain Tylor makes epic use of Suppe's "Light Cavalry Overture" for one of the greatest Bait-and-Switch of all time. It has to seen to be believed.
  • The ending theme to Dragon Half is a medley of Beethoven symphonies... with newly written lyrics about omelettes. (No, seriously.)
  • Digimon Adventure featured Ravel's "Bolero".
  • Fate/stay night uses the "Lacrimosa" from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Requiem in a flashback in the fourth episode. (You'll hear his name a lot on this page.)
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion uses the Hallelujah Chorus from George Frederic Handel's "Messiah" in its 22nd episode, and "Ode to Joy" (Beethoven's Ninth, Fourth Movement) in its 24th. There's a fair amount of Lyrical Dissonance: Asuka's Mind Rape by an Angel is set to "Hallelujah," and"Ode To Joy" amounts to Kaworu's theme and plays as he almost destroys the world.
  • Not wanting Evangelion's reputation for Soundtrack Dissonance to come into question, the second Rebuild of Evangelion film is sure to make soul-searing use of not one, but two Japanese folk songs.
  • Episode 6 of Azumanga Daioh, the field day episode, has a field day with this trope: "Csikos Post," "Camptown Races," Offenbach's "Infernal Gallop" ("The Cancan Song"), "Clarinet Polka," Kabalevsky's Comedians, and "Turkey in the Straw" are all featured as background music.
    • Aren't they typical tunes played at Japanese school athletic festivals? Turkey in the Straw is anyway.
  • Tweeny Witches has a peppy J-Pop ending theme based on "The Beautiful Blue Danube".
  • The Area 88 TV series used a techno remix of Bach's "Little Fugue in G Minor" for its opening theme song.
    • As did the series Nazca.
  • Other than the opening and ending themes, Legend of Galactic Heroes uses classical music for the entirety of its soundtrack.
    • The only exceptions are the anthems of the Free Planets Alliance and Galactic Empire, which are original compositions.
    • Mahler's 6th and 3rd are associated with the Empire.
  • The theme of Iketeru Futari is a J-Pop song called "Fall in YOU" — which suddenly takes up the tune of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor for ten seconds in the middle. Seriously!
  • Sailor Moon:
    • One episode of the third season has Sailor Uranus searching for Sailor Neptune and ending up getting damaged, and to the tune of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, no less.
    • Another episode, from the fourth season, has Boccherini's "Celebrated Minuet" play during the scene where Usagi tries to fake sabotage of her ballet shoes in an attempt to gain sympathy points only for Chibiusa to call her on it.
  • The song "Journey to the Sun" from Endless Waltz uses the familiar ten-note refrain from "Jingle Bells"; appropriate, since the movie's events center on Christmas.
  • Princess Tutu, being themed around ballet, uses plenty of classical themes.
  • The same counts for Nodame Cantabile, which makes sense for a series about classical musicians.
  • Kemeko Deluxe! used Beethoven's "Ode To Joy"note  when Izumi's bikini top falls off and she lands an Armor-Piercing Slap on Sanpeita.
  • The Big O utilizes Chopin's Prelude No. 15, aka "The Raindrop Prelude".
  • Giant Robo: The Animation has "Una Furtiva Lagrima" from Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore. It also has an original composition based on "Dies Irae" that briefly features the melody of the original hymn.
  • Black Butler uses the "Queen of the Night's Revenge" aria from Mozart's opera The Magic Flute at the start of Episode 5.
    • The OST of .hack//Roots features a song based on this aria as well.
  • Ghost Stories: Episode 4 prominently features Beethoven's famous piano composition, "Fur Elise".
  • FLCL used Kabalevsky's "Comedians" for a hectic chase scene.
  • In Black Cat, main villain Creed Disketh played the Third Movement to Giovanni Battista Pescetti's "Sonata in C Minor" for piano several times.
  • The final episode of the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist contains two arrangements of Chopin's Etude #3 as background music.
    • The First Movement of Beethoven's 5th Symphony can be heard in Episodes 49 and 50 as well.
    • In the English dub, Zolf J. Kimblee can be heard humming Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" in Episode 39.
  • RideBack features "The Great Gate of Kiev" from Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition as a recurring motif.
  • Excel Saga uses Beethoven's Ode to Joy in Episode 2 where Menchi tries to escape. She's surrounded by a rainbow and cherubs while the track plays. Skip to 5:00 and 6:20 to see.
  • Gunslinger Girl:
    • "Ode to Joy" is played in one episode, making that moment work much better than just reading the words did in the manga.
    • One episode of the second season features an arrangement of "Scarborough Fair".
  • Obscure anime Fighting Foodons used the tune of Offenbach's "Orpheus in the Underworld Overture" for its dub theme song.
  • Gankutsuou likes this trope, too. Tchaikovsky's "Manfred Symphony" is used a lot—the First Movement is the Count's own theme and excerpts from latter movements are also used here and there. Eugénie plays the First Movement (edited, though) of Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concerto No. 2" and Schumann's "Traumerei" during her performance in the Opera, on Luna Albert and Franz meet the Count during a performance of "Lucia di Lammermoor", later in Paris the Count invites Albert to a performance of "Robert le Diable"... and the opening theme song is based partly on Chopin's "Etude Op.10 No.3."
  • Done wonderfully in the R-18 rated Shoujo Sect, in which Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata", Debussy's "Clair de Lune", Bach's "Little Fugue in G Minor" were used.
  • The "Moonlight Sonata" also features on Detective Conan, as part of a mystery.
  • The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya uses Tchaikovsky's Fourth, Shostakovich's Seventh, and music from Ravel's ballet Daphnis et Chloé in "The Day of Sagittarius" and Mahler's Eighth in the finale. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya features Satie's Gymnopedies and Gnossiennes along with "Je te veux".
  • Black Lagoon uses Richard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" from the opera "Die Walküre" in episode 6.
  • The Naruto OST features a piece based on the fugue from Johann Sebastian Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D minor".
    • Bleach's soundtrack also has two pieces that use segments of the above piece.
  • One Piece Episode 86 very appropriately uses Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria".
    • In Episode 126, Antonín Dvořák's "From the New World" is played when Luffy and Crocodile launch their final attacks on each other.
  • Episode 6 of Ouran High School Host Club used Mozart's "Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major".
  • Not quite background music, but still: The use of Mozart's "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" in the fourth Ranma 1/2 opening.
  • Tegami Bachi frequently features Johann Sebastian Bach's "Air in D Major" from Orchestral Suite No. 3 as background music, as well as his Sonata for "Solo Violin No. 1 in G Minor".
  • Romeo X Juliet uses the aria "Lascia ch'io pianga" from George Frederic Handel's opera "Rinaldo".
  • The score of Puella Magi Madoka Magica features arrangements of a few classical pieces, including the Bach/Gounod "Ave Maria", Claude Debussy's "La Fille aux Chevaux de Lin", and Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Vocalise Op. 34 No. 14".
  • The OVA of Kaze to Ki no Uta has a lot of classical pieces, fittingly enough. The most notable is Chopin's "Étude Op. 25 No. 11".
  • Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine uses an arrangement of J. S. Bach's "Invention 13 in A minor".
  • The Familiar of Zero Season 2 Episode 6 uses the "Largo" from Handel's opera "Xerxes".
  • Blood+ features Chopin's "Raindrop Prelude", Brahms' "Lullaby", the Second Movement of Mozart's "Piano Concerto No. 21", and Haydn's "Emperor" string quartet and "Surprise" symphony.
  • Hyouka uses Bach's "Air on the G String" and Gabriel Fauré's "Sicilienne" frequently.
  • Minami-ke uses the first movement of Tchaikovsky's "Serenade for Strings in C Major Op. 48" whenever Hosaka gets a little over the top.
  • Fairy Tail has some rather frequent public domain tracks:
    • "Habanera" from Carmen is most frequently used as the leitmotif of the Magic Council.
    • The Cancan Song typically plays whenever there's a Bar Brawl.
    • One of the official soundtracks has a track titled "Ifuu Doudou". Its meaning? "Pomp and Circumstance", aka the "Graduation Song".
    • "Air on the G String" plays during Juvia's first appearance in Episode 21.
    • Expect to hear "Also sprach Zarathustra" when Juvia starts Chewing the Scenery, such as when she mistakes Lucy for her rival for Gray's affections in Episode 25.
    • Another official track, "Rakuen no Tou", is actually a shortened version of Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concerto No. 2".
    • Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria" plays during one of Juvia's Imagine Spots on Sirius Island.
    • The spring suite from Vivaldi's The Four Seasons plays while Kain has an Imagine Spot of his own where he imagines that Levy, Lisanna, and Cana are all fawning over him.
  • After The Reveal in Gaiking: Legend of Daiku Maryu, the 4th movement of Dvorak's New World Symphony is used as Proist's Leitmotif, introduced as the only thing she finds redeeming about human culture.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! uses "Ride of the Valkyries" as the theme for the character of Siegfried von Scrhader who fittingly uses as a Valkrie themed deck.
  • During the hotel infiltration arc in Assassination Classroom, Irina plays Chopin's "Fantaisie-Impromptu" to distract the security guards so that her students can get past.
  • Kill la Kill: "Dawn of a Miserable Morning" has alot of classical music in it for some reason. More generally, whenever Mako makes a dramatic speech, it's accompanied by a wacky version of Handel's Messiah.
  • Maria-sama ga Miteru features Charles Gounod's Ave Maria, a piece played in piano by Sachiko (In episode 3 of the 1st season), and later sung by Shizuka (In episode 13). Fitting enough, Maribato! also features a rendition of this piece in the character selection screen, as well as the Greenhouse stage.
  • Initial D: The intro of "Back on the Rocks" is lifted from that of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor.

    Fan Works 
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    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey was renowned for its use of classical music in its soundtrack, and most Anglophones will automatically identify the song "Also sprach Zarathustra" with the movie (You could say that the Blue Danube Waltz is also related to 2001 due to the use of it in the space station and Moon Station Docking sequences too see this video) — with one exception (see below).
    • Though it wasn't all public domain — Györgi Ligeti's music was altered and used without his permission, and Ligeti threatened to sue Kubrick and MGM.
    • Originally the classical pieces were merely used to set the general pace for an original score by Alex North, but Kubrick obviously knew awesome when he heard it.
  • Kubrick, a lover of classical music, used this trope frequently and masterfully. The entirety of the soundtrack to A Clockwork Orange comprises classical pieces (fittingly, since the protagonist is expressly stated to be a classical music buff, which even becomes a plot point), some of them arranged for a Moog synthesizer to lend them a surreal, nightmarish quality. The Shining did the same.
  • In Dr. Strangelove, every scene of the bomber crew is accompanied by an orchestral arrangement of When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again/Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya, two folksongs which share a tune, but very different tones.
  • Spielberg imitated Kubrick in Minority Report, using "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" and Schubert's "Unfinished" symphony.
  • Both The Hudsucker Proxy and Ice Age 2 use Adagio from Spartacus.
  • The song "Classico" in Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny is a medley of numerous classical tunes, with very profane lyrics.
  • The Japanese film Tampopo uses excerpts of Mahler symphonies and Liszt's "Les Preludes".
  • Kramer vs. Kramer used Vivaldi's Concerto in C major for mandolin and strings.
  • Partial example: While The Wizard of Oz contains many original songs, the background music also includes arrangements of Felix Mendelssohn's "Scherzo in E minor" and Mussorgsky's ''Night on Bald Mountain".
  • Gattaca used a modified version of Franz Schubert's Impromptu in G-flat major, Op. 90, No. 3 with extra notes added for a concert scene involving a pianist genetically engineered with 12 fingers.
  • The above examples are only a very small sample: the use of classical music in Hollywood films is VERY frequent. Here is a more comprehensive (though not exhaustive) list.
  • Trailers for films (though mostly for TV Spots) use "Hall of the Mountain King" A LOT. Although in the UK the music is heavily associated with the Alton Towers theme park, so it always seems odd when it turns up anywhere else- for example the recent Windows Phone 7 advert, which has confused a lot of people (especially as it includes a clip of people on a rollercoaster).
    • Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" is very heavily used in trailers, particularly after a movie had debuted in theaters and is a box-office and/or critical success.
  • Hopscotch stars actor Walter Matthau and composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Puccini and Rossini make cameo appearances as well.
  • The original Dawn of the Dead (1978) features mostly library tracks for music. The Italian cut features additional original music by the band Goblin.
  • The King's Speech utilizes several pieces of classical music, including the Overture to Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro and the allegretto from Beethoven's 7th Symphony.
  • The Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet uses Mozart's 25th Symphony for the scene where the Capulets are preparing for their ball, though most of the rest of the music is original.
  • The entire soundtrack to Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan is based off of "Swan Lake".
  • The 2010 remake of True Grit uses "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" as the theme for Mattie Ross, the main character, among other hymns. Unfortunately, because they were all pre-composed music, Mr. Carter Burwell was denied an Academy Award nomination.
  • The original Rollerball is notable for its use of classic music such as "Toccata and Fugue in D minor" and the "Adagio in G minor."
  • Help! was a showcase for a lot of Beatles songs, and much of the soundtrack was their tunes done in a James Bond style—but then they also used Wagner's 'Lohengrin', Tchaikovsky's '1812 Overture', Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy', and Rossini's 'Barber of Seville'.
  • The Flash Gordon (serial) used Franz Liszt's Les Preludes as its theme, eliciting the Cecil Adams page quote.
  • Most of Bloodbeat's soundtrack is made of public domain music, culminating in a climax with "Carmina Burana" blastig in the background.
  • Most of the background music of The Hand That Rocks the Cradle is arrangements of "Poor Wandering One" from The Pirates of Penzance, including a Scare Chord moment when a radio alarm clock goes off. The father and daughter also sing from H.M.S. Pinafore while dad is shaving in the morning.
  • Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations plays at the end of Australia.
  • Zardoz gets a lot of mileage out of Beethoven's Symphony No. 7.
  • The entire soundtrack to The Boondock Saints was public domain music because the producers couldn't afford any music licenses.
  • Babe's score cribs heavily from classical music; the main theme (which doubles as the tune to "If I Had Words") comes from Camille Saint-Saiëns' third symphony, just for starters.
  • Birdman's score is a combination of drum solos and classical music, including the slow movements of Tchaikovsky's Symphonies Nos. 4 and 5, the opening of Mahler's Symphony No. 9, Ravel's "Pavane pour une infante defunte" and Piano Trio, and the first two movements of Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2.
  • The movie of Slaughterhouse-Five used J.S. Bach pieces for its soundtrack, along with some period-specific popular music.
  • Die Hard with a Vengeance uses a version of When Johnny Comes Marching Home for its villain's theme.
    • The Die Hard series uses "Ode to Joy" as its main theme.
  • In Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, while playing Halo 5: Guardians on his Xbox One, Benji can be heard listening to "The Marriage of Figaro".
  • 2:37 uses multiple public domain compositions, such as Antonio Vivaldi's The Four Seasons and Erik Satie's Gymnopédie No. 1 (the latter being used both diegetically and non-diegetically).
  • In Des hommes et des dieux, Luc breaks out a cassette player and a tape of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.
  • In The Man from Earth, John plays a recording of Ludwig van Beethoven's Seventh Symphony.
  • Biopic Tchaikovsky is filled with music by the man himself, as well as lengthy scenes from his operas, the longest being from The Queen of Spades. (Surprisingly, it does not use the 1812 Overture.)
  • Super Mario Bros. uses "Funiculi, Funicula" as the (Italian, of course) title characters' leitmotif.
  • One of the only two songs featured in the entirety of Portrait of a Lady on Fire is the third movement of "Summer" from Vivaldi's Four Seasons (which would have only been a little less than a century old at the time). It's featured in two scenes- the first being when Marianne plays a bit of it for Héloïse on the harpsichord, the second being the ending scene, where Marianne witnesses Héloïse being overcome with emotion while experiencing it being played by a full orchestra.

    Live-Action TV 

By Work:

By Series:

  • Mentioned on 30 Rock, when Jack states that it's "public domain week" on America's Kidz Got Singing:
    Jack: This week, America's kids sing really old songs that everyone knows and NBC doesn't have to pay for. It's brilliant!
  • Charles Gounod's Funeral March of a Marionette is more commonly known as the theme song to Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
  • The theme song of Barney & Friends is "Yankee Doodle". "I Love You" is "This Old Man".
  • Doctor Who:
  • The theme music for Great Performances from 1982 to 1988 was the first movement of Johann Sebastian Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto No. 2", played in the defined key of F major for Season 11 (the 10th Anniversary season) and in E major for the remainder of its run.
  • Guiding Light. Super Couple Alan-Michael and Lucy consummate their relationship to the Adagio sostenuto portion of Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18". Or as less cultured viewers might have thought, an instrumental version of Eric Carmen's "All By Myself", not knowing that the song is based on the classical piece.
  • Lampshaded on iCarly, when Spencer is trapped in a heating vent and trying to amuse himself, "And now, a medley of your favorite songs from the public domain!"
    • And before that in iSpy a Mean Teacher, when Carly, Freddie, and Sam get caught in Ms. Briggs house they act like they were there to surprise her for her birthday, "Let's sing our public domain birthday song!"
  • The soundtrack to It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is primarily public-domain easy listening music. Originally done because the show had a low budget, it's usually in contrast with the show's subject matter.
    • Additionally, Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" From The Nutcracker is the theme of any nefarious scheming or plotting by the Gang.
    • The standard tune for something particularly sinister is "Funeral March of a Marionette" (more recognizable as the theme tune for Alfred Hitchcock Presents).
  • JAG: "Anchors Aweigh" and "The Marines Hymn" are played several times.
    • In "Boot", "The Marines Hymn" is sung by female Marines during an exercise.
    • In "Heroes", both Harm and Mac get to whistle their respective service song.
  • Jonathan Creek had Camille Saint-Saëns' "Danse Macabre" as its theme song.
  • Kamen Rider Den-O had an episode where the Victim of the Week wanted to forget about her ex-fiancé, but since he'd given her a locket that played a snippet of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, the Imagin of the Week interpreted that wish as "Destroy anything that plays The Four Seasons."
  • Unusual example: Lexx's Musical Episode wove a tragedy of love and loss out of German nursery rhyme tunes unfamiliar to English-speaking audiences. Other episodes had comedic versions of "Greensleeves" and "Row, Row, Row Your Boat".
  • The main theme of Mark Six (The Hong Kong equivalent of a Lottery) is the instrumental version of Shocking Blue - Inkpot.
  • In the season 10 finale of Modern Family, all of the songs in the talent show scene are public domain: "Carolina in the Morning" (sung by Mitch and Cam), "Turkey in the Straw" (played on the banjo by Luke), and "Fur Elise" (played on the piano by Phil). Other public domain songs such as "Camptown Races" and "Oh, Susanna" appear in later episodes.
  • Sousa's "Liberty Bell March" became the Monty Python's Flying Circus theme. Even the (ancient) recording they used must have been in the public domain.
  • The restrictiveness of the scope of public domain music is parodied in Mystery Science Theater 3000 with the Mads' karaoke machine that plays only public domain songs, such as "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", the immortal "Baa Baa Black Sheep", the turgid and bittersweet Gregorian Chant #5, the impish "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and Mozart's The Magic Flute.
  • Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" was used in the Scrubs episode "My Female Trouble".
  • Despite decades of wonderful original music composed for Sesame Street, what tune is used (with altered lyrics) to end every Elmo's World segment? "Jingle Bells".
    • Many preschool series (animated or live-action) will more often than not feature a number of, if not many traditional nursery rhymes, etc, including the above two shows.
  • Westworld has Claude Debussy's "Reverie" which was first used by Ford to calm down Maeve who went hysterical after losing her daughter to the Man in Black. It turns out that this is the favorite piece of Arnold's late son which, in turn, was played when Arnold arranges his Thanatos Gambit with Dolores. More fittingly, this piece was played when Ford closes his farewell speech to the Delos board by welcoming his new narrative: kickstarting the Robot War by letting Dolores shoot him in the head and firing at the guests.
    • Season 2 has Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 where the Delos security and the rebelling Hosts fight each other to death.
  • Win Ben Stein's Money used classical music throughout each episode with Ludwig van Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" as the show's central piece (played two to three times each episode).
  • Wings' Theme Tune was Franz Shubert's "Piano Sonata Number 20".

    Pinball 

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Whereas film lovers will identify "Also sprach Zarathustra" with 2001, in the mind of the wrestling fan, the song is synonymous with Ric Flair.
  • Jerry "The King" Lawler has long used Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition (Great Gate of Kiev Movement) as his entrance theme.
  • WWE wrestler The Undertaker's most common and well-known theme is a variation of Chopin's funeral march.
  • Doink the Clown entering to "Entry of the Gladiators".
  • For a brief period at the height of his "American blueblood" gimmick, the WWF's Hunter Hearst Helmsley (better known today as Triple H) made his entrance to Beethoven's "Ode to Joy".
  • Randy Savage coming out to Edward Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance" (AKA "the graduation song", AKA "Land of Hope and Glory").
  • Much in the same line of Ric Flair, Daniel Bryan is now the definitive example of "Ride of the Valkyries" in the wrestling community.
  • Thanks to WALTER, the fourth step of Antonín Dvořák's "Symphony No. 9" is now known as "the Symphony of Broken Chests".
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    Radio 
  • The Lone Ranger on both radio and television used the finale of Rossini's William Tell overture ("March of the Swiss Soldiers") as its opening theme. To this day, one tongue-in-cheek definition of a "highbrow" is, "someone who can listen to the William Tell Overture without thinking of the Lone Ranger."
    • And the radio series The Green Hornet used Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Flight of the Bumblebee'' for its opening theme, and a number of classical works as regular soundtrack bits. Both series were created by WXYZ's George W. Trendle, a notorious cheapskate, who was well known in the radio broadcast business for pinching his pennies in the production of his radio dramas. The film serials also used a classical soundtrack, unless the action on-screen demanded something else.
      • It worked beautifully, though, especially in The Lone Ranger. Who can forget Liszt's "Prelude to a Silver Bullet", and Mendelssohn's "Rustler's Cave Overture"? The damn thing was perfect. Few people can listen to "March of the Swiss Soldiers" without at least thinking "Hi-yo Silver!"
  • The opening music to You'll Have Had Your Tea: The Doings of Hamish and Dougal is a pipe version of the Rondo from Mozart's 4th Horn Concerto.

    Video Games 
  • Let's get the BEMANI examples out of the way first, because there's going to be a lot of them.
    • beatmania / IIDX / III:
      • "V" (Winter from Vivaldi's "Four Seasons")
      • "革命" (Chopin's Revolutionary Etude, and a damn good translation pun - "kakumei" means "revolution(ary)", and that it's the One-Hit Point Wonder boss on a Dance Dance Revolution game too).
      • "DIAVOLO" and "Thor's Hammer" (Lizst's Grandes études de Paganini No. 6 (Theme and Variations) in A minor and La Campanella respectively)
      • "DORNWALD ~junge~" (Maria durch ein Dornwald ging, a German Christmas carol)
    • Dance Dance Revolution:
      • "END OF THE CENTURY" (Beethoven's "Ode to Joy")
      • "SPEED OVER BEETHOVEN" ("Für Elise")
    • Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix:
      • "Underground Mozart" (Eine Kleine Nachtmusik)note 
      • "Pipe Pop" (Turkish March)
      • "Garden Boogie" (Carmen)
      • "Fishing Frenzy" (Csikos Post)
      • "In the Whirlpool" (Pomp and Circumstance)
      • "Frozen Pipes" (Old Folks at Home)
      • "Rendezvous on Ice" (Les Pâtineurs)
      • "Always Smiling" (Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka)
      • "Up, Down, Left, Right (Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star)
      • "Choir on the Green" (Ah, Lovely Meadow)
    • GITADORA:
      • "Classic Party" series (medleys)
    • Pop N Music:
      • "CLASSIC" series (medleys)
    • Reflec Beat:
      • CSIKOS POST -SEISHUN SKA-PUNK MIX!- ("Csikós Post")
      • Gymnopédie -kors k mix- (Satie's "Gymnopédie No.1")
      • The "Rb.Conductor" series (Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance March #1", Brahms' "Hungarian Dance No.5", Strauss' "Radetzky March, Op.228")
    • And then you have songs that subvert this by actually being original works, like "A" and "Piano Concerto No. 1 'Anti-Ares'". The latter's supposed composer, Virkato Wakhmaninov (an alias of Jun Wakita, one of Konami's current in-house music artists), even has a brief fictional biography about him.
  • Offenbach's "Infernal Gallop" (perhaps better known as "The Cancan Song"), from Orpheus in the Underworld, shows up a lot:
    • Parodius, for the Hot Lips boss.
    • Mr. Do!.
    • Super Mario Land's invincibility music.
    • The boss music in Tiny Toon Adventures: Montana's Movie Madness. A minor-key variation is used for the between-stage interludes.
    • O2Jam, where it was one of the most popular songs.
    • Jubeat features a Eurobeat rendition titled "Heaven or Hell".
    • A remixed version plays during the credits roll of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom (unless you win as Roll).
    • The Japanese version of Crash Bash (retitled Crash Bandicoot Carnival) used a techno remix in the Dot Dash and Splash Dash minigames (the Western versions use a remix of Dingodile's theme from Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped).
    • Zero Wing uses this in its ending.
  • The DSiWare downloadable Soul Of Darkness, Gameloft's Castlevania clone, uses the "Dies Irae" from Mozart's Requiem Mass for its credits music.
  • Space shooter ''Phoenix'' should be counted as one of the earliest examples, with its short excerpts of Romance de Amor and Beethoven's Für Elise.
  • Khatchaturian's Sabre Dance is another one that shows up pretty often, showing up in, among other places, the SNES Bonk game. And Parodius.
  • Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King shows up quite often as well, including Manic Miner for ZX Spectrum, Hunt the Wumpus for TI-99/4A, and... you guessed it... Parodius.
    • and of course, in the video game called, you guessed it, Mountain King.
    • Also in the old space-sim-trader Elite.
  • ...Y'know what? Just check out The Other Wiki's entry on the music in Parodius.
    • Word of God is that, for the original MSX Parodius, the use of public domain music was due to the composer given a very strict deadline. This carried over to Parodius da!, and before long it was a series staple.
    • In La-Mulana, the PR3 Mini-Game parodies many elements of the original Parodius, right down to remixing classical songs; "Pomp and Circumstance" for the pre-stage area, "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" for the stage itself, and "Sabre Dance" for the boss.
  • Another TI-99/4A game, Alpiner, featured as its main music another song from Grieg's Peer Gynt soundtrack, "Anitra's Dance".
  • Lemmings, uses a vast amount, including the "Infernal Gallop" (see above), "How Much Is That Doggy In The Window,"(actually more of a Suspiciously Similar Song) "She'll Be Comin' Round The Mountain," Mozart's Rondo Alla Turca, Pachelbel's Canon (actually, a completely new composition with the famous chord progression, Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker and Swan Lake... you get the idea.
    • Oh No! More Lemmings had an original soundtrack in its Amiga/PC release. Its Acorn Archimedes port, however, had a rewritten soundtrack with an absolute crapload of public domain songs, even more than in the original game: "The Trumpet Hornpipe" (better known as the Captain Pugwash theme), "K-K-K-Katy", "Camptown Races", "Three Blind Mice", the Finale from the William Tell overture, "Greensleeves", "Old McDonald", "Waltzing Matilda", "The British Grenadiers", "On Ilka Moor Baht 'at", "Trepak", "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor", "Don't Dilly-Dally on the Way" (also used in the Sega Master System and Game Gear ports of the first game), "Rule, Britannia!", "Sobre las Olas" (also used in Lemmings 2), "Yakety Sax", "Country Gardens" (also appearing in the SNES port of Lemmings 2), and finally "Portsmouth".
  • Did anyone know that iconic Spanish guitar solo in the beginning cutscene in Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies, titled "Prelude", is actually Agustin Barrios Mangore's "La Catedral, 1st Movement" (hence "Prelude")? Some of his works are also featured in the cutscenes, such as "Una Limosnita Por (el) Amor de Dios" ("An Alm for the Love of God").
  • Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik starts off the arcade Mario Bros. game.
  • Frogger:
    • Frogger plays a snippet of Camptown Races whenever the title character dies, while levels are introduced by a variety of classical themes.
    • The "game start" jingle is "Inu no Omawari-san" ("The Dog Policeman"), which is a traditional Japanese nursery rhyme. The line the game plays is the first one, which goes "Maigo no maigo no koneko-chan. Anata no ouchi wa doko desu ka?" ("Lost, lost kitten, where is your address?")
    • The Commodore 64 version employs a sort of mash-up/medley theme that very notably includes Yankee Doodle. Yankee Doodle also appears in the arcade version.
  • In Earthworm Jim, the background music in the second level, "What the Heck?", starts off with Modest Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain before switching suddenly to elevator music.
  • Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata provides two backing tracks in Earthworm Jim 2, with both the somber first movement and frenetic third movement being used. Another level uses a medley of "Funiculi, Funicula" and "Tarantella Napolitana".
  • Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata (First Movement) also shows up in the title screen and ending of Thexder (and its more fully-scored sequel Fire Hawk), as well as Jet Set Willy.
  • The Moonlight Sonata's First Movement is also used to good effect in Shadow Man, as the soundtrack to Jack the Ripper's lair in a dark, abandoned section of the London Tubes.
  • The NES version of Tetris used Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy"... and, on the victory screen, the Soldiers' Chorus from Bizet's Carmen. The Game Boy version, on the other hand, used the Russian folk song "Korobeiniki" (and another Tchiakovsky piece, "Trepak" from The Nutcracker as victory music). In fact, the Tetris Company has trademarked the use of "Korobeiniki." Also, Type C in the Game Boy version is a Minuet in B Minor from one of J.S. Bach's French Suites.
  • Yoshi's Cookie, in the spirit of puzzle games, uses "Csikós Post" as background music in all three versions (it's Action Music B in the SNES version and 2P Music C in the NES and Game Boy versions).
  • The Super Solvers Edutainment Games' soundtracks consisted entirely of classical music:
    • Midnight Rescue used Paul Dukas's "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and Edvard Grieg's "In The Halls of the Mountain King".
    • OutNumbered used Bach's Prelude in C minor, two movements of Mozart's Symphony No. 40, and the first two variations of Paganini's 24th Caprice.
    • Treasure Mountain plays C.P.E. Bach's "Solfeggietto" on the title screen and upon reaching the top of the mountain. One of Beethoven's country dances was used as a level theme.
  • Frontier: Elite uses a variety of classical themes, including Johann Strauss' "Beautiful Blue Danube" and Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries".
    • The original Elite also used "On the Beautiful Blue Danube" on the opening screen, and (on some platforms) when the player's ship is performing auto-docking. This latter use is a reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • Grand Piano Keys: All of the songs in the game are well-known public domain melodies.
  • Gyruss uses a rocked-out arrangement of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor. With power chords. Compared to the "beep boop BIP beep" soundtrack many other video games of the era had, it's actually pretty amazing.
  • Army Men II's soundtrack almost entirely uses well known songs excluding the main menu and boot camp. Almost delves into Soundtrack Dissonance when you have to defend a tank depot while listening to Spring Song, of all things.
  • The LucasArts adventure Loom uses melodies from Swan Lake. Justified Trope: The character's mother and several other characters were turned into swans.
  • Nushi Tsuri Adventure: Kite no Bouken (part of the River King series) appears to have Auld Lang Syne as the main title theme. It also contains another Standard Snippet when the main characters discover a bottle with a paper inside it.
  • Wolfgang Krauser's music from Fatal Fury 2 (and its update Fatal Fury Special) is an arrangement of Mozart's Dies Irae, even with an orchestra playing the song in the background. Said music was recycled in The King of Fighters '96, and an 8-bit rendition played in SNK vs. Capcom: Match of the Millennium on the Germany stage (a recreation of Krauser's original stage).
    • Likewise, Lacrimosa acts as his theme song in Real Bout Fatal Fury Special and Real Bout Fatal Fury 2.
    • Krauser himself is a tribute to Mozart, sharing his first name, and his favourite music is listed as Opera and classical music. It surely shows in the games.
  • The Mystic Cave Zone theme in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is based on Julius Fučík's "Entrance of the Gladiators" (also known as "that circus theme").
    • Also present in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, in the Carnival Night Zone, which also sampled Michael Jackson's "Jam," which makes sense since Jackson's songwriters and those who worked with him composed the soundtrack for this game.
  • Star Fox used various folk melodies in the Out of this Dimension level; namely "Voices of Spring" by Johann Strauss for the main stage theme, and a medley of the Japanese folk song "Yuki (Snow)", "When the Saints Go Marching In", and "Lightly Row" for the boss theme.
  • The PlayStation game Wild9 using "Amazing Grace" on its Game Over screen. The somber mood is soon broken up by the laughter of the little green aliens you spend most of the game fighting...
  • Nasen Jack, a German game for Atari 8-Bit Computers, played "Greensleeves" when the player collected all the letters in the word EXTRA.
    • "Greensleeves" is also played throughout Black Lamp, a British game for Atari 8-bit computers.
  • In Zool 2 for Amiga and DOS, the first level is named "Swan Lake". Guess what the background music's a remix of...
  • Hudson Soft's Famicom game Binary Land uses Erik Satie's "Je Te Veux" as its background music, and Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" as the victory music.
  • The arcade and NES game City Connection uses Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto #1 as its background music... but in a rock arrangement. Even better, though, when one runs over a cat in the game, a little polka plays; the Japanese name of that tune translates as, appropriately enough, "I stepped on the cat".
  • Richard Wellington, the primary witness for the first case of the second Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game, has Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor as his cell phone ringtone. Before that, in the same case, it's used for major effect in Phoenix Wright's nightmare, and later, when the witness is found as the definitive culprit of the murder.
  • For Metal Gear Solid, composer Tappi Iwadere tried to do this to "The Winter Road" by Georgey Syridov, using it as the games' main theme. After ten years of Metal Gear Solid games, the song turned out to be not as public domain as the composer thought...
  • Along the years, the Taiko no Tatsujin games have featured a lot of music from the Classic music genre repertoire, ranging from accurate renditions to original remixes as well. So much songs, in fact, that are all grouped into a dedicated 'Classic' music genre folder in the games!
  • Return Fire uses "Dies Irae" by Verdi, "In the Hall of the Mountain King" by Grieg, "Mars" (from the Planets) by Holst, and "Ride of the Valkyries" by Wagner for its soundtrack.
  • Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Heartbreak has "Moonlight Sonata" and "Waltz of the Flowers" as unlockable Ham-Jam themes.
  • Hamtaro: Ham-Hams Unite! dabbled in this moreso, using Ravel's "Bolero", "Csikós Post" (referred to as "Postman's Rush"), a jazzy remix of "Mary Had a Little Lamb", and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" as Ham-Jam music.
  • During the last two levels of Call of Duty World at War, one can hear a German military march (the Königgrätzer Marsch, to be exact) playing in the background in specific areas. Considering that it's been around since 1866, it's almost certainly in the public domain by now.
    • The game's original soundtrack also incorporates some real music; the song played at the very end of the Soviet campaign's last mission incorporates a snippet of the Hymn of the Soviet Union.
    • The popular Dies Irae also pops up briefly in the mission "Eviction".
    • Call of Duty 4 has a portion of the Soviet anthem play when you win a match as the Spetsnaz.
  • Most Paradox Interactive games up to and including Victoria had soundtrack consisting mostly of classical music. Hearts of Iron's intro theme is "Ride of the Valkyries", while EU2's soundtrack is filled by somewhat bizarre period music. (including one involving whips, and the infamous falalalalan)
  • In Banjo-Kazooie, Grunty's theme (and thus, the music heard everywhere through her lair, the Hub Level) is actually a minor-key version of "Teddy Bears' Picnic". Since both The Hero, Banjo, and the Damsel in Distress, Tootie, are bears, it's actually fitting... if not rather odd.
  • The Konami game Magician's Quest: Mysterious Times/Enchanted Folk and the School of Wizardry takes this almost to the point of abuse. Almost all of the overworld and event music is based on existing classical pieces, ranging from the well-known (like "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy" and "Beautiful Dreamer"), there are also some lesser-known oddballs thrown in (such as the "Love" theme being Debussy's "Petite Suite"). However, the game also provides a large assortment of original compositions for you to play on your in-game instruments, so, there you go.
  • Wii Music had a soundtrack composed almost entirely of public domain songs.
  • Samurai Shodown 6 uses Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" as a background theme for the USA stage, rearranged as a military march. The arranged version adds the national anthem ["The Star-Spangled Banner"] in the beginning, then goes into a rock version of "Stars and Stripes Forever".
  • The Halo 3 Believe ad campaign (at least the 90-second one that had no live-action) used Chopin's Prelude No. 15 in D-Flat Major, though all other music from the game and ads were original compositions
  • The original 1980s version of Sid Meier's Pirates! featured short snippets of classical music to accompany certain events. Many came from Handel's Water Music. For the 1990s version, Pirates! Gold, music was taken from the works of J.S. Bach (and credited to him). The 2004 remake features loads of classical music, with several "cover" versions for each tune. Firaxis Games were developing Civilization IV at the same time, and so several tunes ended up in both games.
  • Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest's theme for Haunted Hall borrows from "Night on Bald Mountain" in places.
  • Mega Man Legends
    • The music played for Megaman Juno's final form in the first Mega Man Legends is a rather chilling remix of Johann Bach's ''Little Fugue
    • The music played while in the Sulfur Bottom in the sequel is Vivaldi's Spring.
  • The Famicom/NES game Tetrastar: The Fighter uses several classical music pieces, including Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" and Khachaturian's "Sabre Dance".
  • The boss music in Castle of Deceit is the fugue movement of Bach's "Toccata and Fugue", while the main gameplay theme is an excerpt from his Harpsichord/Piano Concerto in D Minor.
  • The game Jigsaw on the Action 52 cartridge uses "Long Long Ago" for its theme.
  • In the "Waterloo World" level of Psychonauts, the "1812 Overture" can be heard. "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" can also be heard in certain parts of the music track for Sasha's Shooting Gallery.
  • The Sachen game Pyramid (a Tetris knockoff) uses "The Streets of Cairo" (aka "There's a Place in France").
  • The DOS first-person wireframe Pac-Man clone 3-Demon uses several Scott Joplin songs, including "The Entertainer", for its soundtrack.
    • Speaking of Scott Joplin, the arcade game Domino Man uses Maple Leaf Rag as its main gameplay theme.
  • The entire soundtrack of Little King's Story is classical music.
  • Most of the soundtrack to The Oregon Trail games is country folk songs.
  • Runman's soundtrack consists entirely of public domain Jazz and Blues songs.
  • The Midway Arcade Game Satans Hollow incorporates Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" in various places.
  • Tapper/Root Beer Tapper features Stephen Foster's "Oh! Susanna" in the first level, as well as the folk song "Buffalo Gals" and "The Can Can Song" by Jacques Offenbach.
    • "Oh! Susanna" also plays in the arcade game Pooyan, when Mama rescues her piglets for the second time.
  • The NES version of Punch-Out!! uses "Sakura, Sakura", a traditional Japanese folk song for Piston Honda's ring entrance. This is referenced in the Wii game (where he was renamed "Piston Hondo").
    • "Ride of the Valkyries" was used as the themes to Von Kaiser and a couple other boxers.
    • Glass Joe's entrance theme is La Marsellaise, the French National Anthem.
    • Don Flamenco's theme is an excerpt from the Georges Bizet's opera Carmen.
    • Soda Popinski's theme is "Song of the Volga Boatman".
  • The arcade game Battlezone plays a snippet of the "1812 Overture" when you make the high score list.
  • Crystal Castles plays two different parts of the "Nutcracker March". The one that plays depends on whether or not Bentley Bear or the enemies get the last gem.
  • Depending on high the player gets, Beethoven's Fifth (specifically the famous four-note opening) is one of the themes plays when you make the high score list in Stargate (AKA: Defender II).
  • The NES game Might and Magic: Secret of the Inner Sanctum uses a surprisingly-long arrangement of Pachelbel's Canon in D on its title screen.
  • The Battle of Olympus plays Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor inside the Temple.
  • Super Famicom game Violinist of Hameln's soundtrack consists mostly (if not entirely) of classical music — most immediately apparent, Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring is the town theme.
  • The Space tribe's theme in Lemmings 2 is J. Strauss's Blue Danube, a Shout-Out to 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • Most of the soundtrack to Flower, Sun and Rain consists of pop/techno remixes of classical and jazz pieces; most of the chapters in the game are even named after the music that appears in them.
  • Successful completion of each level in Peggle is met with a rousing rendition of "Ode to Joy". Renfield's theme is "Toccata and Fugue in D minor", and "Morning Mood" plays when the game is launched.
  • The NES version of The Adventures of Captain Comic has a soundtrack consisting of badly mixed classical music.
  • Megablast, an arcade Shoot 'em Up from Taito, has an FM synth arrangement of Chopin's piano piece, Fantaisie-Impromptu in C-sharp minor. It doesn't show up during the game itself, but in the attract mode. Beethoven's Ode to Joy accompanies the ending cast roll.
  • The New World Symphony plays during the boss battle against Augus in Asura's Wrath.
  • Antarctic Adventure uses the "Skater's Waltz" as its in-game music.
  • Miner 2049er during its intro plays a version of "Clementine," a song alluded to by the game's title.
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, while hailing from a series known for having its very own share of awesome tracks in the first place, has three pieces of classic music in its soundtrack because of one of its worlds representing Fantasianote . note 
  • Catherine features lots of classical music for its puzzle segments, including "Jupiter" from Gustav Holst's "Planets Suite", Bach's "Tocatta en Fugue", and Dvořák's "From the New World". Most of the bosses use "Baba Yaga's Hut" from Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition (except Doom's Bride and Shadow Vincent, which use a piece by Atlus composer Shoji Meguro, and the final boss, which uses Chopin's "Revolutionary Etude").
  • Combine that with Soundtrack Dissonance in Brain Dead 13: In the Conservatory Room, as Lance tries to avoid getting strangled by Mongo the Marionette or pounced upon by Fritz, the music played here kinda sounds like "The Trepak Dance" from The Nutcracker by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
    • Also combined with Soundtrack Dissonance in Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp: The soundtrack that plays entirely in the background of Level 5 while you avoid getting eaten by a fire-breathing cat is the first part of Symphony No. 5 in C minor (Allegro con brio) by Ludwig van Beethoven. This also counts as a Genius Bonus when you notice that the song number is the same as the level number.
  • Here's another trope also combined with Soundtrack Dissonance and Standard Snippet: In Batman: Arkham Origins, The Joker's more theatrical moments of cruelty are often underscored by classical music typical of cartoons - his "Sleigh Ride" in the Royal Hotel ballroom plays a warped organ version of Julius Fučík's "Entry of the Gladiators", he fussily selects the detonator for one of his bombs to Gioachino Rossini's "The Barber of Seville", and his hallucinatory fight in the comedy club has an arranged section of the overture from Rossini's "The Thieving Magpie".
    • The trailer for the DLC Cold, Cold Heart features Aude Lang Syne. It's set on New Years.
  • In addition to The Cancan Song used during the actual levels, Mr. Do! also features Beethoven's Turkish March (Also known as the Theme from El Chavo del ocho, and not to be confused with Mozart's Turkish March) in the results screen that appears after clear three "scenes".
  • Mr. Passion, a mid-boss in Chapter 2 of Mother 3, is a ghostly composer, so, naturally, his battle theme comprises a medley of various classical music excerpts.note  If you know when to come back and challenge him again as Lord Passion, he'll have a brand new battle theme with different classical pieces.note 
    • In addition to that, there's also "Leder's Gymnopédie", which is actually Erik Satie's Gymnopédie N*1, used to great effect when Leder tells Lucas and his friends about the true history of the world.
  • Final Fantasy
    • In Final Fantasy II, Princess Hilda (actually the Lamia Queen in disguise) attempts to seduce Firion to an excerpt from the Swan Lake overture.
    • The dancing girls from across the series typically use public domain music for their routines:
    • Final Fantasy III: "Dance of the Little Swans" from Swan Lake.
    • Final Fantasy IV: Khatchaturian's "Sabre Dance".
    • Final Fantasy V: The Habanera from Carmen.
    • As Bartz improves his piano skills in Final Fantasy V, he plays excerpts of Schubert's "Marche Militaire No. 1," Stephen Foster's "Beautiful Dreamer," Mozart's "Rondo all Turca," and Debussy's "Arabesque No. 1."
    • "Fiddle de Chocobo" from Final Fantasy VII incorporates bits of "Oh Susanna" and "Camptown Races".
  • The main theme of EV Nova is "Mars, the Bringer of War" from Gustav Holst's The Planets Suite.
  • "Mars, the Bringer of War" also happens to be the theme of Space T.V. Fortress, The Very Definitely Final Dungeon of Ape Escape 3.
  • While less blatant, the theme of Living Failure from Bloodborne is a Boss Remix of "Mars, the Bringer of War".
  • Some of the background music in Thwaite appears at first to be Suspiciously Similar Songs to parts of the Animal Crossing soundtrack. A listen with a classically trained ear reveals that it's actually pieced together from Beethoven's Sonata Pathetique.
  • Eternal Sonata features several Chopin pieces for the segments detailing his life. A remix of "Revolutionary Etude" serves as the game's final boss theme.
  • The Artdink game Arctic uses the Rondo from Mozart's Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 570 (at least in the Famicom version).
  • The trailer for the Cthulhu Mythos/World War I themed Turn-Based Tactics game Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land begins with the chorus of "It's a Long Way to Tipperary", a song from this era which was very famous in British ranks. The main menu's theme is a loop of this chorus; both version are accompanied by some subtle creepy sound effects in background. The ending credits are also set to this chorus, but without the creepy sound effects.
    • The game's official soundtrack included a cover of the full song.
  • Kerbal Space Program's main theme -heard on the start screen and in most official trailer videos- was composed especially for the game, but all the other background tracks are royalty-free library music.
  • Dwarf Fortress is a slightly strange case; the official background music is not an example, being composed and performed by the developer himself, but a popular third-party sound engine called SoundSense uses this trope rather extensively.
  • In the old Hudson Soft game Challenger, the Stop The Express stage uses an upbeat take on Franz Schubert's "Military March" for its background music, mixed with train whistle sound effects. (Some may know it better as the theme for Drill Man's stage in Rockman 4 Minus Infinity.)
  • In the GameCube Animal Crossing, "Auld Lang Syne" plays on your way home from the New Year's celebration.
  • Bioshock Infinite's menu theme is the Blues standard After You've Gone, composed in 1918.
    • In BioShock, the circus standard "Sobre las Olas(Over The Waves)" is played by the Gene Banks.
  • Both Five Nights at Freddy's and its sequel use public domain music played diagetically as the only actual music in the soundtrack—"Habanera (Les Toreadors)" from Carmen in the first, while the sequel adds "My Grandfather's Clock" (and "Pop Goes the Weasel").
  • Donkey Kong Jr.'s opening cutscene is set to Toccata and Fugue in D minor.
  • Cytus has the Symphony chapter, which consists of arranges of various classical tracks.
  • The Bally/Midway arcade game Blue Print uses "Joe Avery's Piece" as its main soundtrack tune.
  • In the arcade game Carnival, "Sobre las Olas (Over the Waves)" by Juventino Rosas, a tune commonly associated with carnivals and funfairs, constantly plays throughout the game. There's a musical target you can hit that will turn the music on or off if you get tired of it.
  • Bristles makes judicious use of The Nutcracker: The main theme is "March of the Tin Soldiers", falling plays the first two lines of the overture, losing a life plays the Russian Dance, and Brenda making a handprint on a wall plays the Chinese Dance.
  • The PC-88 game How Many Robot features "L'apprenti Sorcier" by Paul Dukas as its opening theme.
  • The Korean Arcade Game Star Fighter takes its main in-game theme from Johann Sebastian Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 5.
  • Nintendo's Famicom Tantei Club for the Famicom and its remake for the Super Famicom's Nintendo Power kiosk service use Bach's Invention No. 15 in one part of the game.
  • Oh...Sir!! The Insult Simulator uses public domain classical pieces for it's background music. Most noticeable is the use of Brahm's Hungarian Dance No. 5 in the Train scenario and Handel's Messiah during the boss battle with "Father".
  • The original Thunder Force used "William Tell Overture" as its main theme.
  • The puzzle game Beaver Builder has a soundtrack made up entirely of public domain jazz songs.
  • Downplayed in TinkerQuarry. While the soundtrack is mostly original, ambient music, there are some classical tunes too.
  • Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield uses Schubert's "Ave Maria (Ellen's Third Song)" during the second Island Estate mission.
  • The Hunt for Red October uses "The Star-Spangled Banner" as the ending theme.
  • Many songs from Big Fun in Furbyland are shortened versions of well known classical tracks, like Johannes Brahms' Hungarian Dance N°5, Gioachino Rossini's William Tell Overture or Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee.
  • The original The Legend of Zelda barely averts this trope, thus avoiding a Metal Gear Solid-like situation. Originally, the plan was to have an arrangement of Ravel's "Bolero" play on the title screen, but on the day before the ROM was to be compiled, it was discovered the song wasn't out of copyright yet. An original theme based on the overworld music (which had already been composed) was whipped up in one night to replace it.
  • Fallout 4's Classical Radio station is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, playing Gustav Holst's "Mars, the Bringer of War", Richard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries", Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Requiem Mass", Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherezade", Edvard Grieg's "Morning" and "In the Halls of the Mountain King" from Peer Gynt, Ludwig van Beethoven's "String Quartet no. 12", and various works by Frederic Chopin, Claude Debussy, Edward Elgar, Modest Mussorgsky, Camille Saint-Saëns, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, etc.
  • Tetris 99 plays Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" when the player makes it to the top 10 of a round.
  • The Forza Horizon series has included classical music since the second installment; on Radio Levant in said game, and on Timeless FM in the third and fourth.
    • The Ninja Hattori-Kun Famicom game's main theme quotes a few bars of both "Orpheus in the Underworld" by Jacques Offenbach and the Minuet from "The Woman of Arles" by Georges Bizet, both Romantic-era composers.
  • City Connection made excessive use of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "Piano Concerto No.1: Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso" as the main game BGM, even if it’s remixed considerably for each level.
    • Also, The German folk tune “Flohwalzer” plays when you knock a cat and send it flying. This is an in-joke as the Japanese actually had a song called “Neko Funjatta” (lit “I stepped on a cat”) that’s set to the tune.
    • Lastly, a few bars from “Turkey In The Straw” plays if you run into a spike or a police car.
  • The music pieces in The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa are taken from artists who made released them into the public domain. Most of them later became popular with the game's fans due to the Colbert Bump.
  • The SCUMM Bar music in The Secret of Monkey Island is a rendition of the old English drinking song "O Good Ale, Thou Art My Darling".
  • Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge plays Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" when Roger gets eaten alive by a swarm of bugs after attempting to climb one of the sticky trees on Labion.
  • Corpse Party: Book of Shadows Moreshige's theme of love in Book of Shadows is a slightly lower pitched version of Pachelbel's Canon in D Major.
  • Winter Games uses "Valse de fleurs" from The Nutcracker for the Figure Skating event.
  • In The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures, the Blizzard of Balls BGM is a sped-up version of the Christmas carol "In dulci jubilo (Good Christian Men, Rejoice)".
  • Crystal's Pony Tale: Nearly every song in this game is a classical piece, most notably Johannes Brahms' "4th Symphony, 2nd Movement" and Gabriel Faure's "Dolly Suite, Op. 56".
  • In /Captain Silver, the song of the Pied Piper in the first stage is a variation of "In The Halls of the Mountain King" in the style of Creepy Circus Music.
  • Super Mario Kart uses the beginning of "Entry of the Gladiators" for its "Ranked Out" fanfare.
  • RollerCoaster Tycoon features a merry-go-round that plays a looping medley of different tunes, including (that we know of) "Artist's Life" by Johann Strauss. The "Ragtime Style" music used as the default theme of the old-timey car ride is Scott Joplin's "Searchlight Rag"...
  • ...which is also used for the carnival game in Enter the Gungeon, albeit played at such a frenetic pace and with enough dissonant notes added on top to render it almost unrecognizable.
  • Japanese mobile game Puzzle & Dragons has mostly original compositions, but uses Japanese folk song "Sakura Sakura" for the New Year event dungeon boss battle.
  • Japanese mobile game Monster Strike features a few classical composers as monsters to collect, with their Strike Shot voice lines backed up by music in later evolutions and releases. These include:

    Visual Novels 
  • G-Senjou no Maou uses "Air on a G-String" as a motif and the title screen music, as evidenced by the title ("The Devil on G-String"). "Songs My Mother Taught Me" and "Ride of the Valkyries" are also used as background music for Kanon's figure-skating competition. In fact, the former is an important motif and the title for Kanon's chapter.
    • Almost of the background music in G-Senjou no Maou are remixed versions of various classical pieces.
  • Crescendo ~Eien Dato Omotte Ita Ano Koro~ features well-known pieces in the public domain from Chopin, Handel, Scott Joplin, and others.
  • A softer and slower Lonely Piano Piece version of "Clair de Lune" is played in Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony when Shuichi mourns Kaede's death.

    Web Original 
  • The Moonlight Sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven is featured in Dirty the Pooh and the Hundred-Acre Shitpile, Chapter Three when Pooh eats Piglet alive.
  • Charlie the Unicorn: The Candy Mountain Song is sung to the tune of "Clarinet Polka".
  • Homestuck: A Vaudeville-era song by Eddie Morton, "I'm a Member of the Midnight Crew," is sampled in "Black" and later covered in Volume 8.
  • Web animation "Half Full" utilizes the 1911 song "Billy (She always dreams of Billy)for its end credits theme tune.
  • Chopin's Minute Waltz plays in the background on Cooking with Dog, a cooking show hosted by a Poodle. The piece is also called the Puppy Waltz.
  • The Nostalgia Critic hilariously uses the "Storm" segment of the William Tell Overture while he's destroying the The Never Ending Story III DVD and going berserk after playing the Blues Brothers SNES game.
    • Doug's earlier Bum Reviews also used Luigi Boccherini's "Minuetto" as its intro and outro music.
  • Whenever he's not using snippets from game soundtracks, The Kilian Experience frequently uses classical music as background music to his game guides. Amongst numerous examples is his use of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" to hype up the terrifying windmill he's trying to destroy in his Besiege guide and using a piece of Guiseppe Verdi's "La Donna E Nobile" while explaining how to best cook and serve a Reaper Leviathan.
  • Contrapoints uses these a lot, often remixes done by Zoë Blade. Her most-used piece is probably Blade's remix of Charles Gounod's "Funeral March for a Marionette", which serves as a leitmotif for resident anarchist catgirl Tabby.

    Western Animation 

 
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Chariots of Fur

"Frühlingsstimmen" by Johann Strauss Jr. briefly plays as Wile E. gets tangled in the giant spring, falls off a cliff and gets flattened by the rock the spring is attached to.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / PublicDomainSoundtrack

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Main / PublicDomainSoundtrack

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