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Vivaldi's Goldfinch

The inspiration for beautiful music!

Bird song caught the ear of Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi. And he even named a 1729 flute concerto for a bird - the goldfinch. The source of inspiration for Vivaldi's Goldfinch concerto, or Il Gardellino, was the European Goldfinch, a tiny bird found throughout much of Europe, where it frequents gardens and roadsides. No wonder Vivaldi found the goldfinch irresistible. 

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Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Vivaldi’s The Goldfinch - When Birds Inspire Music

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.

[Song of European Goldfinch]

Can bird song inspire great music? It certainly caught the ear of Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi, widely celebrated for his exuberant, playful melodies. Vivaldi even named a 1729 flute concerto for a bird, the goldfinch.

[Musical passage from The Goldfinch]

The flute is perhaps the instrument best suited to recreating the whistled sounds of songbirds. Vivaldi’s Goldfinch concerto, or Il Gardellino, challenges the flute to imitate the bird’s silvery trills and sweetly warbled phrases, even its plaintive notes.

[Longer musical passage from The Goldfinch]

The source of Vivaldi’s inspiration? The European Goldfinch! It’s a tiny bird found throughout much of Europe, where it frequents gardens and roadsides. [Song of European Goldfinch] And it has the looks to match its sparkling song. Its striking red-and-white face is set off by yellow and black wings. 

No wonder Vivaldi found the goldfinch irresistible. 

[Musical passage from The Goldfinch]

BirdNote is supported entirely by listeners. If you’re a supporter, “thank you!” 

We appreciate it. For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann. 

###

Song of the European Goldfinch recorded and provided by M. Stewart, naturesound.org.

Flute Concerto Op. 10 No. 3 in D major RV428 'Il Gardellino': I. Allegro. “Vivaldi: Flute Concertos” by Richard Tognetti. EMI Classics: 2006

* Flute Concerto in D Major, "The Goldfinch/Il Gardellino " RV428

BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Chris Peterson

© 2013 Tune In to Nature.org   September 2013   Narrator: Mary McCann

ID# vivaldi-01-2008-09-10-KPLU vivaldi-01b

comment 1 Show

The amount of great music inspired by birds and birdsong is vast. The nightingale, lark, and cuckoo have been some of the most popular avian inspirations for western composers from the Middle Ages on. Mozart had a pet starling for 3 years and was so distraught at its death that he held an elaborate funeral for it. His first composition (finished a week after the funeral) was "A Musical Joke," which at one level is pure satire, but recent scholarship has suggested was secretly his homage to the departed bird, based on his starling's songs and somewhat incoherent ways of putting phrases together. One of the greatest 20th-c. composers, Olivier Messiaen, was also an amateur ornithologist who transcribed volumes of birdsong, which he used as the basis for a whole series of piano pieces. He wrote, “It is probable that in the artistic hierarchy, birds are the greatest musicians existing on our planet.”

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