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Mozart: Variations on “Ah, Vous Dirai-Je, Maman”

Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: A little ditty with star quality!

Mozart’s set of charming variations on the French folk song “Ah, vous dirai-je, Maman” were long thought to have been written in 1778 while the composer was in Paris. It was during this period that his mother unfortunately took ill and died. Everything seemed to fit: the French source, even the touching connection to his mother through the “Maman” of the title. However, the best stories sometimes turn out to be just that—stories—and the “French Connection” was eventually disproved by scholarship dating the piece later, to his early years in Vienna. In English, of course, the melody is probably best known set to the nursery rhyme “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Learning this simple tune and variations upon it is also a foundational pillar in the popular teaching method developed in the 1940s by Dr. Shin’ichi SUZUKI.

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