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Toy Symphony by L. Mozart?


by Silvia Francesca Maglione


The Toy Symphony composed in the late 1770’s is also known as the Cassation in G for Orchestra and Toys. A Cassation is a stylized form of suite, which was created during the 1700’s. These relatively brief music compositions were usually performed outside, and were of a very cheerful nature. Haydn and Mozart usually wrote these suites beginning with a march. For this reason, it is commonly thought that the Toy symphony was composed by one of these two authors.
The identity of the composer is still highly debated; initially, it was thought by scholars that the author was Joseph Haydn, because of the similarities with his previous works. Then the scene somehow moved to his less famed brother Michael, by later supposing that he had written it. Finally, through some accurate studies, scholars found that the beautiful cassation was actually by Leopold Mozart (Wolfgang’s father). This is probably the most reliable interpretation of the piece’s authorship, and is the reason why great part of record companies attributes the piece to him.

However, a while ago an astounding revelation arose regarding the piece: Hildegard Herrmann-Schneider in Stams Monastery researched this mystery and found out that the true author of the composition was actually a Tyrolean Benedictine monk named Father Edmund Angerer. This news greatly surprised the scholars and critics. The reliability of this speculation is still highly doubted among scholars. Some might argue it to be an attempt from Tyrolean composers to redeem their selves from the not as rich national contribution to baroque and classical music.

No matter whom the true composer might be, the Toy Symphony is among one of the most impressive pieces of music ever written, for it is based on sounds produced from the children’s toys in the 1770’s. The score is written for toys to be played as instruments, and the musicians skillfully reproduce the sound so that it all blends together with perfect harmony into the piece. The Toy Symphony is especially played around Christmas festivities and for infants or women in pregnancy. It is also a favorite piece for music therapy; the sounds in the composition utterly relax the listener, bringing his/her memories to the childhood. It is simultaneously a very relaxing and cheerful composition. The gorgeous Allegro, clearly exemplifies the gaiety and jocundity of the whole cassation. (Please click here for listening to the preview of the Toy Symphony at Amazon.com).

A masterpiece does not necessarily need an author’s name in order to be accepted as being beautiful. Just how the famous Italian Madonna and Child oil painting and the romantic traditional English tune of Greensleeves are of unknown artists, the Toy Symphony displays its rhythmical jauntiness only through its music, without the aid of an author’s fame preceding it.


The views and opinions in this blog post are those of its author.

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