At the age of twelve José Vianna da Motta composed The Jockey Club, Caprice op. 32 which is classed with his childhood works written between 1873 and 1883. It is very likely that inspiration for this piece came from a horserace seen at the Lisbon Jockey Club, the same place where the Campo Grande hippodrome would be built later. This is not his only piece related to the equestrian universe. In the same period, he also composed Gaieté, Galop op. 35, a piece which he had initially called Circo equestre (Equestrian circus).
The Jockey Club, Caprice op. 32 differs from most of Vianna da Motta's childhood works because the composer does not exclusively use the tonal system. Indeed, its introduction, corresponding to bars 1 to 32 (see structural analysis below) is written in the Phrygian mode, which brings to mind the colors of Spanish music – except for bars 18 to 24 in which notes D♯, A and F(♮) attract the E major chord. From section a, the G♯ note in bar 36 establishes the A minor tone. The Phrygian mode is used again in bars 105 to 116.
Initially, in the first bar of section a'' Vianna da Motta wrote "Poco meno mosso" (see b. 136). It is probably the technical difficulty of the left hand induced by the pianistic writing (see appoggiatura followed by an octave on the first beat) that led Vianna da Motta to cross out the word "Poco". As a result, the significantly slower tempo of the "Meno mosso" facilitates its execution. Another possible reason for the amendment of the tempo alteration is that the composer sought to obtain slower appoggiaturas. In this regard, one should note that despite the fact the performer may play the appoggiaturas with the right hand in bars 136 to 143, it is not technically feasible in bars 149, 151, 152 and 158, which reveals that Vianna da Motta wanted them to be played by the left hand.
João Costa Ferreira