Mozart and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Mozart Variations of “Ah! vous dirai-je maman” for Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star
“Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” is a poem sung to the tune of the French melody “Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman”, which was published in 1761 and later arranged by composer Wolfgang A. Mozart for his famous “12 Variations on “Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman, K265/300e.
It is a common misconception that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star.” He did not, as many of us believed or were made to believe whilst playing it for our piano lessons as children that Wolfgang Mozart composed it. Mozart was a child of five when the original French folk song was composed under the title of “Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman”, in 1761. Literally, or in context, the English translation would mean something like “Oh, would I tell you, mom?”, “Will I tell you, mom?”, or “Should I tell you, mom?”. The music first appeared (without words) in “Les Amusements d’une Heure et Demy” by Mr. Bouin in Paris.
Mozart composed a series of variations on this melody when he was older. Amongst my CD collection of Mozart music is Mozart, with 12 Variations “Ah, vous dirai-je, Maman,” K265, performed by Andras Schiff on the piano under Decca Record label, 1988.
Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star – an English Nursery Rhyme
“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” is a popular English nursery rhymes. The lyrics are from an early nineteenth-century English poem, “The Star” written by Jane Taylor. The poem is in couplet form, first published in 1806 in Rhymes for the Nursery, a collection of poems by Taylor and her sister, Ann.
Ah! Vous Dirai-je Maman and Mozart’s 12 Variations, K. 265/300e
For a time, the composition date of Mozart’s Variations were thought to have been composed in 1778, whilst Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, aged 22, stayed in Paris from April to September in that year, the assumption being that the melody of a French song could only have been picked up by him whilst residing in France. For this presumed composition date, in the chronological catalogue of his compositions, Mozart’s 12 Variations of Ah! vous dirai-je Maman was renumbered from K.265 to K.300e. A later analysis of Mozart’s manuscript of the composition by Wolfgang Plath indicated 1781-1782 as the probable composition date.
Related Article: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Biography
Aika Dan Plays Mozart’s ‘Ah,vous dirai-je, maman’ K.265
YouTube Video Credit:
Aika Dan Mozart ‘Ah,vous dirai-je, maman’ K.265, uploaded by 1989piano. Accessed September 11, 2012.
- Neue Mozart-Ausgabe, IX/26: Variationen für Klavier, Kritischer Bericht (Fischer, 1962), p. 58-59 (In German)
- Booklet notes by Robin Golding, 1991 for Daniel Barenboim. Mozart: The Complete Piano Sonatas and Variations, EMI Classics, 8 CD box No. 5 73915 2.
- Mozart CD. 12 Variations “Ah, vous dirai-je, Maman,” K265, etal. Andras Schiff, Piano. Decca Record, London (1988).