Toy Symphony

By Leopold Mozart

Leopold Mozart, the father of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was a well-known teacher and composer in his own right in mid-18th century Germany. Although he composed conventional orchestral and choral works, he also composed a number of programmatic pieces with peasant or rustic themes.

Of these, the best-known is the “Toy Symphony,” also known as the Kindersinfonie (Childrens’ Symphony) or “Sinfonia Berchtolsgadensis,” named after a village in the Bavarian Alps which was an important center for making cuckoo clocks and toy musical instruments in the 18th century.

This lighthearted 3-movement work features a small orchestra of strings, consisting of violins, ‘cellos and basses (but no violas). It also includes an assortment of “toy” wind and percussion instruments (the cuckoo, quail, nightingale, rattle, drum, trumpet and triangle), which are used with a good deal of melody, harmony and humor.