Mozart's Starling

Mozart's Starling

Book - 2017
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On May 27th, 1784, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart met a flirtatious little starling in a Viennese shop who sang an improvised version of the theme from his Piano Concerto no. 17 in G major. Sensing a kindred spirit in the plucky young bird, Mozart bought him and took him home to be a family pet. For three years, the starling lived with Mozart, influencing his work and serving as his companion, distraction, consolation, and muse.
Two centuries later, starlings are reviled by even the most compassionate conservationists. A nonnative, invasive species, they invade sensitive habitats, outcompete local birds for nest sites and food, and decimate crops. A seasoned birder and naturalist, Lyanda Lynn Haupt is well versed in the difficult and often strained relationships these birds have with other species and the environment. But after rescuing a baby starling of her own, Haupt found herself enchanted by the same intelligence and playful spirit that had so charmed her favorite composer.
In Mozart's Starling , Haupt explores the unlikely and remarkable bond between one of history's most cherished composers and one of earth's most common birds. The intertwined stories of Mozart's beloved pet and Haupt's own starling provide an unexpected window into human-animal friendships, music, the secret world of starlings, and the nature of creative inspiration. A blend of natural history, biography, and memoir, Mozart's Starling is a tour de force that awakens a surprising new awareness of our place in the world.
Publisher: New York :, Little, Brown and Company,, 2017
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780316370899
Characteristics: x, 277 pages :,illustrations, music ;,22 cm


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Jun 18, 2019

This is one of those books that crosses lines between the humanities - in this case, music - and science, with a little personal memoir thrown in. An enjoyable, memorable read.

Nicr Nov 06, 2018

Happy speculation about Mozart's relationship with his starling, enhanced by the author's account of hand-raising her own starling, the irrepressible Carmen. Entertaining and informative.

Oct 27, 2018

Our book group had a wonderful discussion after reading this book, and of course we all went straight out to the library to get CD's of whatever specific Mozart compositions were mentioned. The lion's share of the narrative is about the author's own relationship with her pet starling - raising it practically from birth, fashioning nests, building an aviary, letting it fly free around the house - with brief mentions of Mozart's starling, tucked in around more biographical bits and pieces about Mozart. Fascinating information about bird song, vocalization, mimicry, etc. - we all loved the science of it - and well-written anecdotes about the author walking around Vienna and Salzburg hunting for Mozart's homes, gravesite and memorabilia. Well-researched.

Feb 20, 2018

A nice little book. Well, more like a good essay with a lot of filler.

Jan 24, 2018

A brave and wonderful book. Not claiming to be an expert on music, Mozart, starlings or any subject in particular, Haupt manages to entertain, inform and provide much food for thought on life in general, these three subjects in particular. She is a skillful writer and a polymath with a fine sense of humour. There's little on which she cannot offer a balanced, often illuminating, point of view. When disputing accepted myths about music or birds she manages to lay out logical arguments without putting down the so-called experts who have propogated them. I had always swallowed the story that Mozart borrowed K453's allegretto theme from his pet bird, which she disputes successfully without being pedantic. 'Who cares?', she concludes, there are more important things in life to concern us, an attitude that imforms this whole book and makes it first class reading.

Dec 13, 2017

Enchanting book! Haupt is a wonderful writer, also in the sense that she is full of wonder. A lot of fascinating information about starlings, about birds generally, and about raising a baby starling (as Mozart did) and wholly incorporating her into the family. And Mozart. Haupt went to Vienna to visit Mozartian sites including his grave. Mozart's bird's name was Star.

Carmen was Haupt's bird. Carmen had amazing mimicry talents and she could attach a word to a specific activity; in other words, the bird anticipated human activity and made the right sound! Carmen adored the social interaction. She took sunbaths on Haupt's head or shoulder. And everything you thought you wanted to know about bits of bird poop. Once Carmen flew though a window that was supposed to be closed and the family was frantic. Turns out Carmen was frantic, too. And when she saw Tom the man of the household she flew straight to him. Loved this book.

VaughanPLLily Jul 21, 2017

Loved it. Very interesting history and facts of Mozart's life and his relationship with the starling. It made me think about the connection between human and animals, as well as the balance between the two. I usually read non-fictions slowly but I finished this in a week. Recommended!

Apr 08, 2017

I love books that talk about the relationships we share with wild and domestic creatures. This lovely book addresses the personal as well as historic aspects of life with a starling companion. I had no idea that Mozart actually fell in love with a starling after hearing it singing a bit of one of his piano concerto's. That story was fascinating but the present tense story is just as delightful in my opinion. Saving a baby starling, hand feeding it and falling in love like Mozart with your tiny winged charge.

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