Leck mich im Arsch
"Leck mich im Arsch" [Lick me in the arse] is a canon in B-flat major composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, K. 231 (K. 382c), with lyrics in German. It was one of a set of at least six canons probably written in Vienna in 1782. Sung by six voices as a three-part round, it is thought to be a party piece for his friends. The main theme is derived from the final movement of Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 3 in G-Major.
Publication and modern discovery
Mozart died in 1791 and his widow, Constanze Mozart, sent the manuscripts of the canons to publishers Breitkopf & Härtel in 1799 saying that they would need to be adapted for publication. The publisher changed the title and lyrics of this canon to the more acceptable "Laßt froh uns sein" ("Let us be glad!"). Of Mozart's original text, only the first words were documented in the catalogue of his works produced by Breitkopf & Härtel.
A new text version, which may have been the authentic one, came to light in 1991. Handwritten texts to this and several other similar canons were found added to a printed score of the work in an historical printed edition acquired by Harvard University's Music Library. They had evidently been added to the book by a later hand. However, since in six of the pieces these entries matched texts that had, in the meantime, independently come to light in original manuscripts, it was hypothesised that the remaining three may, too, have been original, including texts for K. 231 ("Leck mich im Arsch" itself), and another Mozart work, "Leck mir den Arsch fein recht schön sauber" ("Lick my arse nice and clean", K. 233; K. 382d in the revised numbering). Later research revealed that the latter work was likely composed by Wenzel Trnka.
The text rediscovered in 1991 consists only of the repeated phrases:
Leck mich im A... g'schwindi, g'schwindi!
Leck im A... mich g'schwindi.
Leck mich, leck mich,
etc. etc. etc.
where "A..." obviously stands for "Arsch"; "g'schwindi" is a dialect word derived from "geschwind", meaning "quickly".
The bowdlerised text of the early printed editions reads:
Laßt uns froh sein!
Let us be glad!
Leck mich im Arsch!
Kiss my arse!
This is a clear allusion to the line "... er kann mich im Arsche lecken!" (literally, "he can lick me in the ass" or idiomatically "he can kiss my ass") attributed to the late medieval German knight Götz von Berlichingen, known best as the title hero of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's 1773 drama. The text of the canon contains a slight error about the Goethe source: the line occurs in the third act.
- "Difficile lectu" – a canon with a disguised Latin version of the same text
- "Bona nox" – "Good night", a multilingual scatological canon
- Mozart and scatology
- Eisen, Cliff, et al.: "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart", Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians Online, ed. L. Macy (Accessed 9 September 2007), (subscription required)
- Schemann, Hans (1997). English-German Dictionary of Idioms. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-17254-3.
- Preface to the Neue Mozart Ausgabe Vol. III/10, p. X.
- Kozinn, Allan (2 March 1991). "Three Naughty Mozart Texts Are Found". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 September 2007.
- Plath, Wolfgang; Bennwitz, Hanspeter; Buschmeier, Gabriele; Feder, Georg; Hofmann, Klaus (1988). Opera incerta. Echtheitsfragen als Problem musikwissenschaftlicher Gesamtausgaben. Kolloquium Mainz 1988. ISBN 3-515-05996-2.
- Silke Leopold; Jutta Schmoll-Barthel; Sara Jeffe, eds. (October 2005). Mozart-Handbuch. Stuttgart: Metzler. pp. 640, 653, 689. ISBN 3-476-02077-0.
- Dietrich Berke; Wolfgang Rehm; Miriam Pfadt (2007). "Endbericht" (PDF). Neue Mozart Ausgabe (in German). Bärenreiter. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 July 2007. Retrieved 10 September 2007.
- Catherine Carl; Dan Manley; Dennis Pajot; Steve Ralsten; Gary Smith. "Koechel List". Mozart Forum. Archived from the original on 14 August 2007. Retrieved 10 September 2007.
- Denis Pajot: "K. 233 and K. 234 Mozart's 'Kiss my Ass' Canons." Mozart Forum Archived 2009-02-08 at the Wayback Machine
- Brilliant Classics (2006). "Mozart Edition, Complete Works". Foreignmediagroup.com. Archived from the original on 21 September 2007. Retrieved 12 September 2007.
- integralemozart.info (2007). "Mozart Complete Edition (Brilliant), Volume 8: CD 1, Canons" (PDF) (in German and Italian). Integrale Mozart. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 19, 2009. Retrieved 12 September 2007.
- "Götz von Berlichingen/3. Akt (unexpurgated))" (in German). Wikisource. Archived from the original on 18 September 2007. Retrieved 12 September 2007.
- Project Gutenberg. "Götz von Berlichingen/3. Akt (expurgated)" (in German). Project Gutenberg. Retrieved 12 September 2007.
- Zaslaw, Neal (2006) "The Non-Canonic Status of Mozart's Canons", Eighteenth-Century Music (2006), 3: 109–123 Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/S1478570606000510