Mozart - A Musical Joke

Mozart has a dig at bad composers and even worse performers. Find out more about A Musical Joke, well-loved for its use as the theme to Horse of the Year show. Watch and listen to different recordings and download your favourite.

Who says classical music can't be funny?

Mozart's Divertimento for two horns and string quartet is peppered with quirky moments, guaranteed to provoke a smile among audiences.

The composer never revealed his exact motivation behind this 1787 work, but it's thought to be a bit of a dig at sub-standard players — the music is sprinkled with clumsy, mechanical and over-repetitive musical phrases, along with passages that mimic the effects of inaccurate notation and really poor performance.

Why it came to be chosen as the theme music for TV coverage of the Horse of the Year show is a mystery but it worked remarkably well as the overture to some magnificent show jumping.