Carl Immanuel Engel (1764–1795) was organist at the Catholic chapel in Leipzig and active in the Guardasoni opera troupe, of which he eventually became musical director. In 1787 Engel was the organiser for the so-called Extra concerts at the Thomëischen Saal which featured unidentified Mozart symphonies, arias from Le Nozze di Figaro, and choruses from Thamos (Strebel 1992, 97–98). He was presumably involved in further Mozart performances in Leipzig in the late 1780s (Woodfield 2012, 132–35).
Engel has achieved musical immortality as the dedicatee of the Kleine Gigue, K. 574, which Mozart wrote into Engel’s commonplace book on 16 May 1789, shortly before the composer’s departure from Leipzig. As a fellow Mason, Engel may well have introduced Mozart to influential figures in Leipzig’s cultural life (Strebel 1992, 98–101). It is no surprise that a few months later Engel seems to have planned for six Mozart minuets to feature in a collection of easy keyboard pieces with optional violin accompaniment, as this advertisement confirms. The majority of the print was to be dance arrangements of numbers from Martín y Soler’s tremendously popular opera Una cosa rara (1786). The advertisement was repeated on 12 December.
The history of the publication leads to some doubt about Engel’s intentions for the print. His earlier announcement of this subscription, referred to here, appeared in the same newspaper on Saturday, 17 Oct 1789 (370). This initial announcement does not mention Mozart; the contents there are described thus: “Sie erscheinen künftige Neujahrmesse 1790 unter dem Titel: Sechs Menuetten, drey Polonoisen und 15 deutsche Tänze aus der so beliebten Oper: Una cosa rara, nebst einer Violino ad libitum.” (“They will appear at the coming 1790 New Year’s fair under the title: Six Minuets, Three Polonaises, and Fifteen German Dances from the Very Famous Opera: Una cosa rara, together with violin ad libitum”). In other words, the entire print was to be arrangements of Martín.
RISM lists two surviving copies of Engel’s print: one in Brussels and the other in the German village of Reuden (although RISM has separate entries for the prints, they appear to refer to the same item). Although we have not had the opportunity to examine these copies, the transcriptions of the title pages make no mention of Mozart. This suggests that the print as it finally appeared reverted to Engel’s original design. While it is possible that the words “von Mozart” were inserted in the advertisements by mistake, it is difficult to see how this could have happened.
This advertisement is noted in Woodfield 2012, 163, who however mistakenly cites the earlier notice without the Mozart reference as its source. On 29 May 1790 Engel announced a second part to the series, this time featuring minuets, polonaises, "Angloisen" and marches, with no mention of Martín.