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Mozart's Starling

"The theme whistled by the starling must indeed have induced wonder because it occurs in the final movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto in G Major, K. 453, written only a month earlier and at that time, not yet performed in public," West said. West explored how the starling acquired Mozart's music as well as the more intriguing proposition: did Mozart "borrow" the motif from his new pet, having visited the pet shop weeks prior to purchasing the bird?


West detailed other expressions of Mozart's relationship with the starling, including an analysis of a piece of music (K. 522, A Musical Joke) the composer completed the week after the starling's death and formal funeral, passages of which "possess the compositional autograph of a starling."


The text of the funeral poem and the orchestration o f the bird's burial suggest that Mozart had been as captivated by his starling as the caregivers in her study, West said, a view contrary to present-day opinions held by many music scholars about Mozart's personality and the object of his grief.


"Perhaps when next you encounter an assembly of starlings, you will, as did Mozart, stop and listen," West said. "And perhaps in their sounds, you too might hear salutations from one upstart species to another."

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Taken on September 29, 2007