Not unlike Jerry Seinfeld, most of my exposure to anything resembling culture has been from cartoons. Here are some classical pieces that, for most of us, are probably more well-known from their use in animated shorts over the years.
1) Powerhouse by Raymond Scott — Carl Stalling, the musical director of all those Warner Brothers cartoons got a ton of mileage out of this piece.
2) Morning (Peer Gynt Suite) by Grieg — The classic “waking up at the barnyard” music.
3) Romeo & Juliet Overture by Tchaikovsky — The “falling in love” piece. Thanks, Spongebob.
4) Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 by Liszt — Tom & Jerry’s version. Bugs Bunny had one, too.
5) The Thieving Magpie by Rossini – This one’s been around the block a bunch, too, from Ren & Stimpy to A Clockwork Orange. Right, right, droogies?
6) Dance of the Hours by Ponchielli — No, not the guy from CHiPs. That was Poncharello. This one was made popular with its use in Disney’s Fantasia. Lots of recognizable moments in this piece. Most notably the “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah” piece that starts around 2:03, and the fast paced bit with the alligators at around 11:24.