Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Laßt Froh Uns Sein (“Let Us Be Joyful”) is a short musical canon in B-flat major for six voices, written by the celebrated classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. At first blush, the 1782 piece seems downright pedestrian, with syrupy lyrical sentiments (translated from German) such as:

Growling, droning is in vain, in vain!
Thus let us be cheerful and merry, be glad!

In 1991, however, an earlier, autographed manuscript of the canon was found in Harvard University’s Music Library, where music historians discovered that Laßt Froh Uns Sein was not the composition’s original title. Likewise this earlier manuscript contained different lyrics for the vocalists. In German:

Leck mich im Arsch g’schwindi, g’schwindi!
Leck im Arsch mich g’schwindi.
Leck mich, leck mich,

This translates into English as:

Lick me in the ass…quickly! Quickly!
Lick me in the ass quickly.
Lick me, lick me,

Evidently Mozart composed Leck mich im Arsch as a humorous canon intended to play with friends at gatherings. The lyrics were later rewritten by Mozart’s publisher for public consumption.