A recent discovery I made last year (about eight years late) that has got me completely enthralled, is of the prodigy Alma Deutscher. Have you come across her? Born 2005, and now a concert pianist and violinist and a composer of symphonies, an opera, and a number of other works. She learnt to play the piano at two, the violin at three, and began her fame when discovered by Stephen Fry, a friend of her father’s, when she was seven.
She was soon hailed as a second Mozart, but this makes her slightly indignant. She is, she always insists, the first Alma!
I love her music, and also her philosophy which is, when people ask when her music is going to get ‘serious’ and reflect the ugly side of life, that if she wants ugly she can watch the news, but for beauty she goes to music. This YouTube features her repeating these sentiments. I recall reading that when she was younger and said much the same thing, some commentators got quite savage in what they wrote, and at least one bright spark described her approach as ‘cringe-worthy’. If anyone deserves that appellation, it is surely the idiots who equate art with ‘reflecting the real world’ and as not to be taken seriously unless featuring some blobs of hideousness.
The existence of such utter genius in one so young gives fascinating scope for speculation regarding nurture/nature/evolution/reincarnation and the like. She has a very bright but ‘normal’ younger sister, so that rather questions the heredity or education theories put forward by scientists to explain prodigies. On the other hand, there are other prodigies who have virtually been ‘created’ by the force-feeding of parents or others being added to some exceptional talent, so the true nature of the phenomenon is elusive. I just wish I had grown up with such natural abilities.
However, to me, it is incomprehensible that such sheer knowledge of and instinct for harmonies, and the complex muscle-memory that goes into playing these challenging instruments so well, could be assimilated in so few years. Some of it must be inherent, whether stored in spirit or genes. Actually, the explanation that ‘fits’ best, whether it conflicts with all one’s own personal convictions or not, is reincarnation.