Alma Deutscher

About Alma Deutscher

A true child prodigy, Alma Deutscher has been dubbed England's "Little Mozart," although both she and her family reject the term. Deutscher composed a piano sonata at age six and a short opera at seven. Alma Deutscher was born in February 2005 in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England. Her parents (an Israeli-born linguist father and a mother who was a scholar of Old English literature, both amateur musicians) noticed her musical ability when she was just 20 months old and began to sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star: she wasn't yet able to pronounce the words, but her rendition was pitch-perfect. She learned to read music before she could read text. Deutscher took up piano at two and violin at three; within a year she was playing Handel's violin sonatas. She began to notate her piano improvisations, and by six, she had written a full-fledged Piano Sonata in E flat major and an Andante for violin. Deutscher quickly mastered larger forms, completing several piano trios and even a short opera, The Sweeper of Dreams, over the next few years. Her linguistic skills developed as rapidly as her musical ones; the opera was adapted from a short story by Neil Gaiman. Immediately bored at school, Deutscher withdrew and has been home-schooled. Her talents were publicized by British comedian Stephen Fry, who posted a link to her YouTube channel when she was seven. By 2019, the channel had amassed nine million views. Her creativity has been of intense interest to interviewers, whom she has told that although melodies come to her spontaneously, sometimes while jumping rope, to assemble them into longer compositions requires hard work. By nine, Deutscher was mastering orchestral forms. She wrote the Dance of the Solent Mermaids for orchestra and a Violin Concerto in G major at nine (revising the concerto at 12) and began the composition of her full-length opera Cinderella, which she finished when she was 12. She has said that some of the music came to her in a dream. She modified the plot to place it in an opera house. This work, too, was revised; after a premiere in Israel in 2015, she expanded the orchestration to include first 20 and then 44 musicians. The work has been performed in German in Vienna, and in English by Opera San Jose in California, conducted by Jane Glover. Deutscher has impressed some of the world's most famous musicians, including conductors Daniel Barenboim and Simon Rattle, and violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. Deutscher appeared on the U.S. television program 60 Minutes in 2017. She often performs in concerts of her music, appearing across Europe, North America, and Asia, and in December of 2019, she made her debut at New York's Carnegie Hall. Her music is tonal in style, reflecting the practices of Mozart and Mendelssohn. Told that contemporary music generally includes dissonances reflecting the world's complexity and ugliness, she responded by asking why music should add to the ugliness that was already there. ~ James Manheim

Basingstoke, Hampshire, England
February 2005

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