Alma Deutscher, the exceptionally gifted 14-year-old composer, pianist and violinist, releases her first album with her own piano compositions on Sony Classical.
Time and time again there have been child prodigies. Outstandingly talented pianists or violinists, say, who display amazing skills in early or even earliest childhood. Alma Deutscher also started playing the piano at the age of two and violin at the age of three. But what makes this 14-year-old British artist (who now resides in Vienna) so special are her multiple talents and her extraordinary gift for composition. Hardly had she reached her fourth birthday then she started to compose. At an age when others have only begun to think of making music at all she could already look back on an astonishing number of pieces from her own pen. By the age of six she had written her first piano sonata, followed a year later by a short opera, The Sweeper of Dreams. At nine she completed her first concerto for violin and orchestra, and at 12 her first piano concerto. Her works are “full of beauty”, “the freshness of her melodic invention, the perfect control of romantic harmony and above all the mastery of the form, the creativity, take your breath away.” ABC Spain
The current zenith in her compositional output to date is surely the full-length opera Cinderella, on which she worked between the ages of eight and 12.
The Telegraph had this to say about it: “Cinderella proves that Deutscher is an extraordinary talent. Prodigy is a much-misused term, but the maturity of her composition would suggest that, for once, it is not mere hyperbole.” Other international media have likewise taken notice and reported on this remarkable talent from England, including Corriere della sera, Der Spiegel, The Guardian, The Sunday Times and the BBC. Sir Simon Rattle waxed ecstatic: “I don't know that I've come across anyone of that age with quite such an astonishing range of gifts. It's natural for her, it's play, and I think it was play for certain brilliant composers, young composers, like Mozart, like Korngold. These are very unusual people.”
Following the appearance of her opera Cinderella on Blu-ray and DVD in 2018, Alma Deutscher is now releasing her first piano album on Sony Classical: From My Book of Melodies. “It was a wonderful experience to record the album in the Fazioli concert hall near Venice, playing on an amazing grand piano, and with the expert recording engineer Giovanni Prosdocimi”, said Alma.
“For this album I chose one melody from each year of my life between four and 14”, she says of this private diary in notes. “I started hearing melodies in my head when I was four years old. I pretended that they were songs from my imaginary country, which I called ‘Transylvanian’.” She wrote them out in her Book of Melodies, which she carries with her at all times to jot down her musical ideas the moment they occur. One was Up in the sky, which she composed at the age of seven and which later became the first aria in Cinderella. “When I was seven, I often played sonatas by Shell, a famous composer from my imaginary country, Transylvanian,” she writes of the piece. “There was a motif (in Siciliana rhythm) that Shell particularly liked, so I played it often, and each time developed it a bit further. When I started composing the opera Cinderella the year after, I immediately knew that this would be her first aria. For this album I prepared a piano solo transcription of the aria.”
When the day falls into darkness was also inspired by a figure from her imagination: “This melody was actually composed by Antonin Yellowsink, my favourite composer in Transylvanian, my imaginary country. When I was eight, I wrote a whole biography of Antonin, and I included this little sample of his compositions: “This expressive piece of his simply brings tears to the eyes.”
Just how much Alma Deutscher appeals to her listeners with her romantic idiom and her touch of easy listening (in the best sense of the word) is evident from her own YouTube channel, where she already has over nine million viewers.