Toy Symphony : Work information

(Johann Georg) Leopold Mozart ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Orchestre Symphonique de Radio-Télé-Luxembourg, Leopold Hager (Conductor)

This work

Work name
Toy Symphony
Work number
1786-01-01 02:00:00

This recording

Forlane CI
F. Margue
J . Mersch
Recording date
1981-01-01 00:00:00

Track listing

  • Allegro 4:46 min
  • Menuetto 4:12 min
  • Finale: Allegro 1:39 min


So-called because it uses toy instruments in addition to strings and optional horns, this symphony has been attributed to various composers over the years including Joseph HaydnMichael Haydn and P. Edmund Angerer. However, it is generally assigned today to the father of W A MozartLeopold Mozart.

Great fun for children to perform in, it features rattles, whistles, toy trumpets, toy drums and various bird-calls. Musically unremarkable, it is attractive enough and its unusual instrumentation has ensured it regular performances at children's concerts.

The Composers

(Johann Georg) Leopold Mozart

Leopold Mozart was born in Augsburg, on 14 Novembre 1719.

After his father's death he was directed towards a clerical career by his teachers and patrons, and in 1737 moved to Salzburg where he enrolled at the Benedictine University.

There Leopold Mozart studied philosophy and jurisprudence, taking the bachelor of philosophy degree in the next year; in Septembre1739, however, he was expelled for poor attendence at the college.

He thereupon became a valet and musician to the Salzburg canon and president of the consistory of Johann Baptist, Count of Thurn-Valassina and Taxis, to whom he dedicated his six trio sonatas op.1 (1740).

Shortly thereafter he appeared as a composer of Deutsch Passion cantatas and Latin school-dramas, and as a result he obtained a post in 1743 as fourth violinist in the court orchestra of the prince-archbishop.

In addition, Leopold was made violin teacher to the choirboys of the cathedral oratory in the next year; later, in 1777, he also became a keyboard instructor there.

In 1757 he was appointed composer to the court and chamber; the next year he advanced to the post of second violinist in the court orchestra, in 1763 to deputy Kapellmeister.

By this time Leopold had married Anna Maria Pertl on 21 Novembre 1747; of their seven children only two, Maria Anna (born in 1751) and Wolfgang Amadeus (born in 1756), survived to adulthood.

In the same year as Wolfgang's birth Leopold published his Versuch einer gründlichen Violinschule, and epoch-making work of Deutsch music theory which made its 37-year-old author well-known, indeed famous, in European musical circles.

In the preceding autumn, of 1755, Lorenz Mizler had petitioned for Leopold's membership in his Societät der Musicalischen Wissenschaften in Leipzig.

Around 1760 Leopold was at the height of his creativity.

Indeed, he seems to have composed rarely after 1762, and not at all from 1771, the year of his last work with a substantiated date of composition (the Symphony n. 25 in D).

Works by Mozart appeared in Breitkopf's catalogues for the last time in 1775. There is no 'late period' in Leopold Mozart's career.

The miracle which God let be born in Salzburg changed Leopold's life.

"I owe this act to Almighty God, otherwise I should be the most thankless creature", he wrote in a letter of 30 July 1768, "and if it is ever to be my duty to convince the world of this miracle, it is so now, when people are ridiculing whatever is called miracle and denying all miracles. Therefore they must be convinced"

This second period in Leopold Mozart's life can thus be understood only in its relation to Wolfgang's.

It is as though Leopold gave up his own life to become a peripheral figure, albeit the most important one, in the biography of his son.

His collaboration in Wolfgang's early works (up to about 1765) was probably negligent, and he seldom drew attention to it.

He played a more noticeable role as a proofreader and sometimes copyist.

Even later in Wolfgang's life, many of the notices of authorship and date are Leopold's, who apparently preserved his son's manuscripts with painstaking orderliness.

It was also Leopold who in 1768 drew up a manuscript catalogue of the most important works to that date. Thus the elder Mozart fulfilled a universal function as teacher, educator, and private secretary to his son, and when necessary served also as valet and travel organizer.

Despite his own many rebuffs and setbacks at court, he was not beyond attempting to mediate in the ever worsening conditions between his son and Prince, Archbishop Colleredo.

The personal tragedy of his later life - the increasing alienation of his son, the misalliance (as he saw it) with Constanze Weber - was made the more severe as he saw the failure of his own ambitions: Wolfgang was unable to reach a worldly position appropriate, in Leopold's opinion, to his genius.

In spring 1785, while visiting Vindobona, Leopold experienced his son's triumphs, noticed (not without mistrust) his apparent affluence, and heard with pride and satisfaction Haydn's famous words in praise of Wolfgang.

He did not witness the final catastrophe; he died, alone in spirit, in Salzburg on 28 May, 1787. He was buried in the cemetery of St. Sebastian.