The Schmooze

Where Is the Next Great Child Composer?

Asked to name a Jewish child prodigy composer, most people would think of Felix Mendelssohn or perhaps even Felix’s sister Fanny. Yet a fascinating study from Scarecrow Press, “Child Composers and Their Works: A Historical Survey” by Manchester University musicologist Barry Cooper, argues that we should also think of the Swiss Jewish composer Ernest Bloch who by his late teens had composed dozens of surviving works.

Sophie-Carmen Eckhardt-Gramatté, an eminent Canadian composer of Russian Jewish origin, was another early starter, as was Morton Gould and a host of 19th century Romantics like Ignaz Moscheles and Henri Herz.The German Jewish composer Erwin Schulhoff wrote “Mélodie,” a chamber work for violin and piano, when he was only nine.

In our day, Jay Greenberg, a Juilliard prodigy, has written symphonic works which have been widely acclaimed and were recorded in 2006 by Sony Masterworks. The Jewish elements in the suave compositions of Greenberg, whose 19th birthday this December will place him outside prodigy age limits, have been well noted.

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Where Is the Next Great Child Composer?

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