Mozart, L: Toy Symphony (1st mvt.)


The first movement of the delightful Toy Symphony by Mozart (the elder) arranged for wind quintet ‘doubling’ on a variety of cheap toy instruments.

  • Instruments : Fl.+rattle Ob.+trumpet on G Cl.(in Bb)+trumpet on G (shared with oboe) Hn.+cuckoo on G/E Bsn.+nightingale
  • Difficulty : C – approx. ABRSM Grade 5
  • Duration : 4’00
  • ISMN : 979-0-708088-43-1
  • Portus Press reference : PPQ23


Until the middle of the 20th century the Toy Symphony, with its famously liberal use of an array of toy instruments, was believed to be the work of either Joseph or his brother Michael Haydn’s work.  However, in the 1950s a manuscript of the work was discovered in Leopold Mozart’s hand.  This fitted in nicely with one of Leopold’s other compositions, the Musical Sleigh Ride, which also employs special ‘sound effects’.  Today some academics believe the Toy Symphony to be the work of an obscure benedictine monk, Edmund Angerer.  The ‘real’ composer is likely never to be pinpointed, but Leopold still (currently) holds majority support.  Despite its name the work isn’t really a symphony.  It is better described as a ‘cassation’ – a compilation of short pieces that were especially popular in the Bavarian Alps, a region famous for the manufacture of toy musical instruments.

Here the march-like first movement is arranged for wind quintet, ‘doubling’ on a trumpet on G (although the trumpet notes could instead be played by the oboe/clarinet – subject to clarinet transposition), rattle (anything will do!), cuckoo on G/E (or play on a recorder instead) and a nightingale (a warbler).

NOTE: For performance the clarinet needs to sit between the flute and the oboe, as there’s some ‘stealing’ to be done, which should serve to add to the comic value of the piece!     

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