She dreamt up a set of piano variations in E-flat while asleep: Alma Deutscher is not your average 10-year-old. Clemency Burton-Hill meets the child prodigy.
This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alma Deutscher. A composer of piano and violin sonatas, string quartets and lately a full-length opera, Deutscher also plays the violin and piano superbly – and has recently turned ten. The British girl is being described as ‘Little Miss Mozart’, not only because of her precocious talents, but because of her inspirations, namely: “Mozart, Schubert and Tchaikovsky - the composers of the most beautiful melodies ever written.”
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,” she told me. “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 to her subconscious. “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!”
Here is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) ——earlier prodigious composers whose musical imaginations did indeed go on to change the world.
The most famous of them all, Mozart could play tunes on the piano from two years old and was composing from four. His first published piece, a miniature for piano, was written in 1761 when he was five. By the time he was 12, he had 10 major symphonies under his belt and was performing for the courts around Europe. Dead at 35, he bequeathed us some of the greatest artistic glories ever created by mankind, and left us forever asking the question 'what if...'