Lots of people think that the difficult bit of composing is to get the idea, but actually that just comes to me; the difficult bit is then to sit down with that idea to develop it, to combine it with other ideas in a coherent way. It’s just very easy to throw a soup of lots of ideas which don’t make any sense together, but to sit down and develop and combine it and afterwards to tweak it and to polish it. That takes ages, sometimes even years. ~ Alma Deutscher

Well duh(!) – yes, that comes from a 10-year-old girl and one of the most genius kids I’ve ever witnessed in my 72+ years on this earth (and I’ve met quite a few). So get your mind off everything going on around the world for a few minutes and immerse yourself into the heart, mind, soul, and spirit of musical prodigy Alma Deutscher; I assure you, you will not be disappointed. As she described in one of many interviews she is lined up to conduct, “I’m not a little Mozart. I’m a little Alma”. Now 11 years old she first picked up a violin at just 3 years of age; wrote her first piano sonata at 6; her first opera at 7; a violin concerto at 9, and has just completed her second opera, Cinderella at 11. Most children of her age would protest an invite to the opera. But there is very little that is ordinary about 11-year-old Alma Deutscher.

She became a classical sensation after writing her first opera, The Sweeper of Dreams, in 2012 – three years after her first violin concerto, and six after writing her first piano sonata. And not only is Alma an accomplished composer, she is also a skilled violinist and pianist. It’s great to look back in retrospect now four years later (2016) as Alma has really blossomed in the past few years and is influenced by a wide variety of composers and styles. Watch her here for instance, in a gathering of ZeitgeistMinds from May of last year:

Alma is brilliant in every way. From the manner she expresses herself through both speech and music, this is one incredible child. How fortunate we all are to be living in a time to see something so rare as her, courtesy of YouTube. As a composer, Deutscher is brimming with charming melodies, which often arrive unbidden and fully formed.

Even when I’m trying to do something else, when people are talking to me about something completely different, I get these beautiful melodies that play inside my mind. Sometimes it might be a human voice singing, sometimes a piano, sometimes a violin. Two years ago, in the middle of the night, an entire set of piano variations in E-flat announced itself. I woke up and I didn’t want to lose the melodies so I took my notebook and wrote it all down, which took almost three hours. My parents didn’t understand why I was so tired in the morning and didn’t want to get up! ~ Alma Deutscher

It is true that most ten-year-old’s are unlikely to be pushing boundaries of “tonality” and “form”, and that the more years they spend immersed in making music, the more their sensibilities will likely be refined as they master their craft. But the assumption that children are by definition not emotionally mature enough to grasp the complexities of great classical works, let alone create them, underestimates the human propensity for music which we have from birth, or even earlier. I still have memories of my own three sons in their mother’s womb, rolling around to the sound of Mozart coming to them on a drive in the car.

In his 1973 Norton Lectures at Harvard University, Leonard Bernstein described musical tonality as “that universal earth” from which everything springs; and he echoed Noam Chomsky’s theory of a “universal grammar” to build a case for tonal music as an inherently natural language in which melody functions as a noun, harmony as adjective, and musical meter as verb.

In the meantime, just take a 14-minute interlude here, to appreciate the depth of this (at the time) 10-year-old prodigy performing the third movement from her Violin Concerto No.1. Simply astounding:

Make of her music what you will, but Deutscher has evidently been instinctively fluent in such fundamentals since she was tiny; her father Guy admitted that she was singing before she was talking. On her YouTube channel, the comments include lines such as “You are going to change the world!” or “the word ‘genius’ is pathetically inadequate… My whole life is changed, my entire view of the universe.” At the above-mentioned Google’s Zeitgeist conference, the audience of Europe’s most sophisticated minds was bowled over by her brilliance. (Even Stephen Hawking, who was in the audience, seemed charmed; although he refrained to comment about whether the music had changed his view of the universe!). One thing is certain: given her age, Deutscher’s musical voice and imagination are extraordinary and are to be celebrated, especially in an age when we are constantly hearing that classical music has no relevance to today’s youth. It really puts everything else to shame.

And so, the wrap, which I lifted from the nightly BBC Culture show “The One”, from last Tuesday, further evidence of the compelling nature of this remarkable talent:

My name is Alma Deutscher, I’m eleven years old, I’m a composer, and a pianist and violinist. I’m going to play a concert in Henley Festival. I’m going to play my third movement from my violin concerto with the Welsh National Orchestra. And I’m going to play with a really, really amazing singer. I’ve been told he’s an opera singer, a very famous one, and I’m extremely excited that I’m going to share the stage with him. When I was little then I didn’t even know it was called composing,  I would just sit down at the piano and I would play the tunes that I had in my head. When I was five then I started writing things down on paper, not just keeping them in my head like I’d done before. ~ Alma Deutscher


Check out her YouTube Channel…

And website Alma Deutscher’s Homepage…

H/T BBC Culture and Clemency Burton-Hill


Face of Jesus by Richard Hook

Soli Deo Gloria!