Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Gallimathias Musicum

I've been listening to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's early compositions, and this is one of my favorites. Mozart wrote Gallimathias musicum in 1766, when he was ten years old. It was performed in the Hague for the coming of age of the regent Prince William of Orange the Fifth on his eighteenth birthday, when he was installed as the Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic. Gallimathias seems to mean something like nonsense, gibberish, or a confused state. It's a humorous piece, a quodlibet, which usually indicates a lighthearted composition combining popular tunes in counterpoint. Here, the designation probably refers to the final movement, a fugue on the Dutch tune "Willem van Nassau," which, according to Mozart's father, Leopold, everyone in Holland was "singing, playing, and whistling" at the time.

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