Musical clocks were a popular mechanical device over the past four centuries, serving as a sort of aristocratic counterpart in pre-twentieth century times to today's stereo and high-tech playback equipment. Works written for musical clocks were generally quite simple and typically have been transcribed for organ or chamber ensemble.
This C major piece is not so simple, however. Its Allegro pacing and plentiful contrapuntal activity take the music out of the fantasy world often associated with the chime-like tones of mechanical sound devices of the past. That said, the music is bright and festive, with a main theme whose jagged pathway brims with joy and energy, and spawns a second subject no less lively and equally happy. The middle section features a fairly elaborate development of the main theme and its related materials, the mood for once turning a bit serious here, the sense of playfulness not quite dispelled but reined in to allow for greater thematic expansion. The reprise brings back the lighter mood of the expository sections and the coda is brilliant in its sense of color and splendor. This nearly five-minute work would even sound well in a full-orchestral transcription, so rich and varied are its materials.