Vivaldi's Goldfinch

This common bird once served as an inspiration for beautiful music.

This story is brought to you by BirdNote, a show that airs daily on public radio stations nationwide.

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.

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 . . . and even its plaintive notes. 

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. 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. 

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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

Written by Bob Sundstrom

© 2013 Tune In to Nature.org   September 2013 / September 2015   Narrator: Mary McCann

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