Not the Next Mozart: Alma Deutscher

The young piano and violin prodigy – Alma Deutscher

If you play an instrument, imagine mastering it and having such a gift for music that you write a full-length opera at just ten years old. Imagine selling out at Carnegie Hall at the age of thirteen, and debuting original compositions. This is the reality of Alma Deutscher, a young piano and violin prodigy.

Alma Deutscher’s first memory of music was when she was three years old and heard a lullaby by Richard Strauss. She asked her parents “How can music be so beautiful?” She has been playing piano since she was two, and violin since she was three. When Alma was four years old, she started to compose and improvise on the piano. At six years old, she wrote her first piano sonata. When Alma was seven years she wrote her first opera called Sweeper of the Dreams which is inspired by a story from Neil Gaiman. At nine years old she wrote a piano and violin concerto. Then, when Alma was ten she wrote a full length opera called Cinderella.

In an interview from Google ZeitGeist Alma Deutscher said, “For Cinderella, I didn’t want Cinderella just to be pretty. I wanted her to have her own mind and her own spirit, and to be a little bit like me. So I decided that she would be a composer.” Alma’s favorite fairy tale is Cinderella. In Alma’s version Cinderella lives in an opera house with her two evil stepsisters and wicked stepmother. The stepsisters are actually prima donnas who imagine themselves as amazing singers but really can’t sing at all. Cinderella is a composer but the evil stepmother and stepsisters don’t allow her to compose and sing and she is just a copywriter for the opera house. The prince is a poet who wrote a poem that Cinderella found. Then, without knowing the prince wrote it, she put music to the words and composed a song based off of the poem. Later at night at the ball, Cinderella sings her song with the prince’s words and the two fall in love.

Alma seems to constantly have new melodies jumping around in her head. When she’s not at the piano or playing violin, she is either reading or outside playing with her purple skipping rope. Alma Deutscher explains that she has imaginary composers in her head that are help her compose her songs. She said in an interview with the Financial Times, “I have quite a few imaginary composers: Antonin Yellowsink and Shell and Greensilk and Bluegold and Ashy. Shell was the first one I discovered, when I was much younger, so she composed more simple pieces; Antonin Yellowsink is the most recent.“[Antonin Yellowsink] is quite Romantic, often quite sad, dark harmonies, or lyrical, but I don’t compose much sad music because I’m a happy person, so quite often I often steal it [from him]. He’s a completely different character from me.”

Alma Deutscher has often been compared to the brilliant composer, Mozart. Alma is mastering her music capabilities at a similar rate at which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed and played his pieces.  Alma told 60 Minutes, ” I know that they mean it to be very nice to compare me to Mozart … Of course, I love Mozart and I would have loved him to be my teacher. But I think I would prefer to be the first Alma than to be the second Mozart.”

The Google ZeitGeist interview highlighted some comments that people have said about Alma’s work. One of them reads, “The word ‘genius’ is pathetically inadequate. Today I hear this and I’ve run out of adjectives run out of superlatives. My whole life is changed. My entire view of the universe.” Another person said, “In this piece I hear faint echoes of Tchaikovsky, Sibelius Smetana, and Johann Strauss but most of all the wonderful voice of Alma Deutscher loud and clear. It’s exciting to think one day we will speak of her only by her one name like the grand masters of musical history.”

Alma is not only really talented in music, she is also trilingual. Alma can speak English, German, and Hebrew and is home schooled. She was born in Basingstoke, England and moved to Vienna, Austria when she was twelve. Vienna is also considered the classical music capital of the world, because it was where Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms called home. Unlike many teenagers, Alma doesn’t use any technology for fun. She doesn’t own a phone or computer, doesn’t watch TV shows, and doesn’t play video games like some of her friends do. Instead, Alma reads a lot. She thinks technology is a waste of time and ruins the mind because you don’t have as much creativity.

In an interview, Alma said she’s working on composing a musical and writing a novel. Alma talks about her novel, “[It’s] called Malvina, and I want to publish it and turn it into a film and write the music for it. I’m not going to give too much away, all I’ll say is I already have the music for one bit of it, which is where there are these ghosts called the Gerril Ghosts, and they suck the time out of people’s lives, and out of the world, and they have a wild hunt on skeleton horses to terrify people in the moonlight at midnight.”

As she is only sixteen years old now, I’m sure that everyone is excited to see were Alma Deutscher will go next in her musical career.