Mozart’s Starling

Starling stare, originally uploaded by Suzanne takes you down.

Now for my favorite historical animal story.

In 1784 the composer Wolfgang Mozart visited a pet shop, where he heard a starling sing of song of 17 notes.

Mozart immediately bought the bird, and for the next three years the two were constant companions.

The starling would sit on Mozart’s shoulder while the composer would create his scores. Many researchers have surmised that the bird would naturally have mimicked the music. But starlings subvert what they hear, abruptly halting a song in the middle, mixing up tunes and syntax in a way that must have amused Mozart to no end.

When his beloved starling died, Mozart was inconsolable. He staged a full funeral and burial, complete with priests, and wrote a poem dedicated to his feathered friend.

Six days later, he composed “A Musical Joke” (“Ein Musikalischer Spass”). With its humorous and unorthodox musical grammar, many believe that Mozart was honoring his departed pet. And two days after that, he made a change to the finale of a concerto (K 453) he was writing.

He added the starling’s 17 notes that began their friendship.


6 thoughts on “Mozart’s Starling

  1. Evening Vicki~

    So glad I stopped by tonight!

    My God….where the hell did your find this WONDERFUL bit of FABULOUS history????

    How touching!

    It made me get “teary.”

    Thank you Vicki, for once again leaving me with a “magical” animal tale.

    Have a wonderful evening,

  2. Hi Ron,
    Thanks for visiting and warming up my place.

    I read about Mozart’s starling years ago, and loved that he took inspiration from its music. I used to spend time at a farm in Pennsylvania, where we would play music to see what the birds reacted to the most. Invariably, their favorite was always Mozart. When we played anything by him, the birds would gather near the windows and sing along.

    When I learned about his starling, I knew why. His music is in their native tongue!

    Have a great Sunday being a geek! 😉


  3. That’s a cool story! I never knew that about him, and I can well imagine someone of his intelligence finding inspiration in a singing bird.

    Great post. Now I’m inspired too. Hope you’re both having a warm, relaxing weekend. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s