by Tamsyn

April 17, 2015

Ah yes, Mozart. The child prodigy. The boy who amazed the world with his talent, even causing some to wonder if he was really a grown man with a medical condition making him appear as a boy. (upon exam, the doctors concluded that he was indeed a child, especially after his childlike behavior of riding a stick like it was a horse, but I digress).  Also, Mozart wrote Twinkle Twinkle Little Star when he was a boy, right? Perhaps when he was 8, as pictured?

When he grew up?
Sort of.

Somebody else wrote the melody, we don’t know who. It was a popular French folk song called “Ah, vous dirai-je maman”, which is essence means, “Eh, what did you say, Mom?”

What Mozart did do is take that melody and write a series of 12 variations on the theme. This means that he took the simple melody and changed it up a bit, 12 different times. Because of this composition- Mozart’s variations of someone else’s ditty- the melody became well known and hence was associated with Mozart’s work. So go ahead and keep thinking of Mozart next time you hear a child sing their “A,B,C’s”, because Mozart was the one who immortalized the melody into the public’s hearts. Also, this is a very fun encore piece for pianists because it starts out so simple, and people don’t expect the fun that follows.

click here to see the score.

I hope this clarification does not shatter any of your fantasies of the child genius dreaming about astronomy. Rest assured that he did write many beautiful music pieces while he was a child. He wrote little nursery rhyme when he was 5:

He later wrote his first opera when he was 8.

To learn more about his childhood, I recommend this charming little booklet written specifically for children: Mozart: The story of a little boy and his sister who gave concerts, written by Thomas Tapper, now in the public domain.

About the author 


My name is Tamsyn and I love music. I got my bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from USU. I spent many years teaching private piano lessons until I had children of my own. I have attended several children workshops on how to teach children music. I really like the Kodaly method, but have adapted a lot of different techniques for my own children.

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  1. Yes. This a nice writeup about Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Variations, Have been trying to play the music sheet on my grand piano as well.

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