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Mozart's Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
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Mozart's Starling

by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

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Legend has it that wandering through the markets of Vienna, Mozart came across a caged starling singing the theme from one of his piano concertos. Mozart purchased the bird, and it became the family pet for the next several years. It is even believed that Mozart held a funeral for the bird when it died, although he did not even attend his own father's funeral. It is also said that the starling's songs inspired some of Mozart's themes.

Nature writer and avid birdwatcher Lyanda Lynn Haupt investigates the truth of this story (for the most part true), and along the way examines the nature and history of the starling, an invasive species (to the U.S.), and almost universally reviled bird. To enhance her study, Haupt rescued (kidnapped?) a baby starling and raised it to adulthood. The bird, named Carmen, became a beloved family pet, and an integral part of her family.

Using the juxtaposition of the story of Mozart's starling and her relationship with Carmen Haupt examines both music and nature. Apparently, starlings have been described as "rats with wings," but Carmen is charming and delightful, and the backstory of Mozart's music and life also makes for good reading. I liked this book very much.

3 1/2 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Jul 14, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316370894, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 21 Jan 2017 00:10:36 -0500)

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