Mozart Finds a Melody

Mozart Finds a Melody

by Stephen Costanza

For the first time in Wolfgang's life, the famous composer was at a loss for a tune. He tried every trick to get his imagination going. He sang standing on his head. He played his violin in the bathtub. He even threw darts at the blank music paper. Alas, nothing worked.

An imaginative story about Mozart's many inspirations

Wolfgang Mozart must

See more details below


For the first time in Wolfgang's life, the famous composer was at a loss for a tune. He tried every trick to get his imagination going. He sang standing on his head. He played his violin in the bathtub. He even threw darts at the blank music paper. Alas, nothing worked.

An imaginative story about Mozart's many inspirations

Wolfgang Mozart must compose a new piano concerto to perform at the famous Burgtheatre in Vienna. But Mozart can't think of a note to write. When he hears his hungry pet starling sing out melodiously, his creativity begins to flow. Before he can put notes to paper, however, his muse escapes through the window, and Mozart is off on a frantic search to bring her back. Will Mozart find both his friend and song in time?

Based on a true story about the famous composer and his beloved pet starling, this enchanting tale celebrates inspiration in any form it takes.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Costanza's (Noodle Man) fictional picture book stars Mozart as a young man struggling with composer's block. Despite several tactics (singing while standing on his head, throwing darts at sheet music) he is unable to write the concerto that is to be performed in five days' time. Then Wolfgang finds unexpected inspiration in the 17-note song of his pet starling, Miss Bimms. When he tries to thank the bird with a kiss, she flies out the window. Wolfgang searches the bustling streets of Vienna for her, to no avail. However, he suddenly realizes that all of Vienna can contribute to his song, from the rhythmic rotation of carriage wheels to the hearty laugh of a baker: "A little more vibrato, if you please, Herr Schafle." As Mozart conducts the completed concerto before a delighted Austrian audience, Miss Bimms, perched atop Saint Stephen's Cathedral, recognizes her melody and soars onstage for her debut. Costanza uses a mix of acrylics, gouache and colored pencils to create dreamlike illustrations that suggest the elusive imagination at work. His surreal blends of muted colors often incorporate a repeated element of scrolls and sheet music. One inspired spread shows the composer's hand-inking notes, while townspeople walk along the staff lines-a flower saleswoman morphs into a flute as she sings and a goose honks into a French horn. This clever and delightfully rendered homage proves the author to be a true aficionado. Ages 5-9. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is at a loss for the first time in his life. His new piano concerto is supposed to be performed at the end of the week and he cannot get it started. When his pet starling, Miss Bimms, begins chirping to remind him to feed her, her song finally inspires him. Unfortunately, the bird gets out of her cage and flies away. As he chases her in vain through the streets of Vienna, however, Mozart picks up additional material for the concerto. The performance produces a happy ending for both the composer and the lost bird. Although obviously fiction, this charming introduction to the composer and his work is based on Mozart's actual pets. Visualized in pastel tones that seem to emit a warm glow, the naturalistic gouache and acrylic paintings—with colored pencil additions—depict an 18th century Vienna with stylishly dressed citizens enjoying a lovely day in the streets and cobblestone square. The young Mozart, mop of hair unkempt, dashes around gathering melodies and recording them with pictures of their sources. The lost bird finds her way home in a particularly appealing sequence of blue-tinted night scenes. Do not miss the decorative end-papers. 2004, Henry Holt and Company, Ages 5 to 9.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-In this fictionalized version of how the composer wrote his "Piano Concerto no. 17 in G Major," Mozart is facing a case of writer's block and a looming deadline. His pet starling begins to sing and the notes provide a fine melody. When the young man opens her cage, she flies out. He looks for her all over the city but doesn't find her. However, the sounds of the streets give him additional inspiration so that he can complete the piece and perform it as planned. During the concert, Miss Bimms hears the music and flies to the theater where she is reunited with her owner. Done in gouache, acrylic, and colored pencil, the sepia-toned illustrations provide beautifully detailed glimpses of Vienna and the concert hall. Unfortunately, Mozart is shown with a round head, big eyes, and wild hair-slightly stylized features that give him the appearance of a Cabbage Patch doll. There is a silliness about the story that seems to detract from the man and his talent. In an author's note, Costanza indicates the source for his ideas. Though not outstanding, this tale can be used to introduce Mozart and to open discussion about how a composer might get inspiration from life around him.-Susan Lissim, Dwight School, New York City Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Costanza spins an upbeat tale from a wisp of fact in his solo debut. A case of writer's block keeps young Mozart staring at a blank page, until his pet starling chirps an intriguing fragment of melody before escaping out the window. The composer's ensuing search takes him through Vienna's streets, where he hears laughter and other sounds that add to the birdsong-and by the weekend, there's a new piano concerto to perform. As in his art for April Pulley Sayre's Noodle Man: The Pasta Superhero (2002), Costanza suffuses his scenes with a golden light that falls alike on Mozart's flyaway mane, on the elaborately costumed Viennese, and on that starling (colored here more like a hummingbird, but call it poetic license)-who returns in the end to perch on the composer's baton. As chronicled in Mordicai Gerstein's What Charlie Heard (2002), the later composer Charles Ives actually did create music inspired by ambient sounds, though to very different effect. But either tale makes a thought-provoking study of the creative process. (afterword) (Picture book. 7-9)

Read More

Product Details

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
10.26(w) x 10.28(h) x 0.32(d)
Age Range:
5 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Stephen Costanza is the illustrator of Noodle Man: The Pasta Superhero. Having studied piano and music composition, Mr. Costanza was able to combine his love of Mozart, music, and painting in creating this story. This is the first book he has written and illustrated. He lives in Belfast, Maine, with some inspirational pets of his own.

More from this Author

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >