Meet Alma Deutscher, the Classical Music Prodigy: Watch Her Performances from Age 6 to 14

One needn’t think too hard to come up with a list of cel­e­brat­ed chil­dren who seem some­how less excep­tion­al when their baby fat comes off and their per­ma­nent teeth come in.

We’ll eat Wern­er Herzog’s shoe if Alma Deutsch­er’s name is on it.

When she was 11, con­duc­tor Johannes Wild­ner told the New York Times that “she is not good because she is young. She is good because she is extreme­ly tal­ent­ed and has matured very ear­ly.”

Her par­ents were the first to rec­og­nize her extra­or­di­nary abil­i­ties.

It’s nice when a musi­cal­ly gift­ed child is born to par­ents who are not only will­ing to cul­ti­vate that seed, they under­stand that their 18 month old sings with per­fect pitch…

She was near­ing the age of rea­son when the gen­er­al pub­lic became acquaint­ed with the pig­tailed com­pos­er who played piano and vio­lin, loved impro­vis­ing and drew con­stant, not uni­ver­sal­ly wel­come com­par­isons to Mozart.

At sev­en, she penned a short opera inspired by “The Sweep­er of Dreams”, a short sto­ry by Neil Gaiman.


She fol­lowed that up with a full length oper­at­ic reimag­in­ing of Cin­derel­la (age 10) and rig­or­ous train­ing that built on her ear­ly expo­sure to Par­ti­men­ti — key­board impro­vi­sa­tion.

Now 18, Alma con­tin­ues to spell­bind lis­ten­ers with her seem­ing­ly mag­i­cal abil­i­ty to con­jure a piano sonata using ran­dom­ly select­ed notes in less that a minute, just as she wowed 60 Min­utes cor­re­spon­dent Scott Pel­ley after he picked a B, an A, an E flat, and a G from a hat back in 2017, when she was 12.

She’s was unabashed about her love of melody in the 60 Min­utes appear­ance, and has remained so, explain­ing the rea­son­ing behind her piece, Waltz of the Sirens, to a 2019 Carnegie Hall audi­ence by say­ing that she’s always want­ed to write beau­ti­ful music:

Music that comes out of the heart and speaks direct­ly to the heart, but some peo­ple have told me that nowa­days melodies and beau­ti­ful har­monies are no longer accept­able in seri­ous clas­si­cal music because in the 21st cen­tu­ry, music must reflect the ugli­ness of the mod­ern world. Well, in this waltz, instead of try­ing to make my music arti­fi­cial­ly ugly in order to reflect the mod­ern world, I went in exact­ly the oppo­site direc­tion. I took some ugly sounds from the mod­ern world, and I tried to turn them into some­thing more beau­ti­ful through music.

The full length opera The Emperor’s New Waltz is the soon to be 19-year-old’s first major adult achieve­ment in what promis­es to be a long career.

Tak­ing her inspi­ra­tion from Hans Chris­t­ian Ander­sen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, she sought to cre­ate a love sto­ry that would appeal to young pop fans (while also get­ting a few swipes in at the “tune­less world of aton­al con­tem­po­rary music.”)

As she not­ed in an inter­view with Germany’s Klas­sik Radio, it’s “def­i­nite­ly the beau­ti­ful melodies that unite pop and clas­si­cal music:”

I’m sure that if Mozart or Schu­bert had heard the most beau­ti­ful melodies of ABBA, or Queen or Elton John, then they would have been jeal­ous and they would have said, “I wish I had thought of that!”

Relat­ed Con­tent

Leonard Bern­stein Intro­duces 7‑Year-Old Yo-Yo Ma: Watch the Young­ster Per­form for John F. Kennedy (1962)

Leonard Bernstein’s First “Young People’s Con­cert” at Carnegie Hall Asks, “What Does Music Mean?”

Hear the High­est Note Sung in the 137-Year His­to­ry of the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Opera

– Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

by | Permalink | Comments (1) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (1)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Tom Mollo says:

    Lis­ten­ing to Alma Deutscher’s music and to her com­ments, I am over­joyed and I plan to share what I am hear­ing and learn­ing with friends and stu­dents.
    So many peo­ple today, both young and old, have lit­tle or no aware­ness of the beau­ty of great art and ideas or that these will add so much to life if allowed to.
    The young stu­dents I meet aren’t intro­duced to clas­si­cal music or any­thing of real aes­thet­ic val­ue and sel­dom does the edu­ca­tion­al sys­tem seem con­cerned.
    For many stu­dents, learn­ing about Alma Deutsch­er would be a life chang­ing expe­ri­ence they could share with their par­ents and teach­ers. A world of good might be accom­plished, so I will take an active part. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.