Child Musical Prodigies Past and Present: Background information when reading The Lucy Variations

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The Lucy Variations

by Sara Zarr

The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr
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  • First Published:
    May 2013, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2014, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sharry Wright

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Child Musical Prodigies Past and Present

Print Review

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart A music prodigy is a child, 12 or under, whose talent is considered on a level and competitive with skilled adult musicians. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is still deemed one of the greatest child music prodigies—born in 1756, he started playing harpsichord at age three. By the age of five he was accomplished at reading and playing music and by age six began performing publically, eventually becoming one of the most famous and prolific composers in history. Other historic well-known music prodigies include George Bizet who started studying at the Paris Conservatory of Music before he was ten; Frederic Chopin who composed "Polonaises in G minor and B flat major 9" at the age of seven; Franz Liszt who performed his first major concert at eleven; and Felix Mendelssohn who began making concert appearances at age nine.

On the more contemporary front, Bjork began studying classical music when she was five, releasing her first album when she was eleven and Tori Amos attended the Peabody Institute at age five. Taylor Swift was writing music by the time she was eleven, and mandolinist Chris Thile cofounded the new-grass group Nickel Creek when he was eight.

But beyond these household names, there are many other music prodigies, with new ones being thrust into the limelight every year. Two highly engaging children recently caught the public's attention; seven year-old Alma Deutscher and six year-old Tsung Tsung.

Compared by many to Mozart, Alma Deutscher of Surrey, England, could name the notes on the piano by age two, received a violin for her third birthday and could play Handel sonatas before she was four. She began composing by the age of five and in 2012, at the age of seven, made the news after writing her first short opera, titled "The Sweeper of Dreams." She has said that she hopes someday to "compose like Mozart, play the violin like Perlman and play the piano like Barenboim."

Watch Alma talking about her opera on the BBC, and click below to listen to the opera:



Tsung Tsung from Hong Kong, made news last year when he appeared on The Ellen Show and performed Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Flight Of The Bumblebee." Wearing a pint-sized tuxedo instead of the pajamas seen in previous videos, Tsung Tsung gave a dramatic performance, throwing his arms in the air like an Olympic victor at the end of the piece.

You can watch Tsung Tsung's performance on The Ellen Show, in the video below:



Article by Sharry Wright

This article was originally published in June 2013, and has been updated for the May 2014 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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