List of music prodigies

This is a list of music prodigies, young children (at or under age 12) who displayed a talent in music deemed to make them competitive with skilled adult musicians. The list is sorted by genre and instrument.

Contents

Classical

Opera

Name Debut[1] Notes
Jackie Evancho 8 2nd place on America's Got Talent at age 10
Beverly Sills 12 Won on Major Bowes' Amateur Hour for the week of October 26, 1939, performed Gilbert and Sullivan by 16
Faryl Smith 12 Was a semi-finalist on Britain's Got Talent at age 12
Charlotte Church 11 She sang on the Big Big Talent Show at age 11

Piano and organ

Name Instrument(s) Debut[1] Notes
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Piano, violin 6 One of the most prolific composers of the Classical Era [2]
Thomas Linley the Younger Piano, violin 7 (earliest recorded performance) Born the same year as Mozart; the two met in Italy and became friends
Charles-Valentin Alkan Piano 6 At the age of seven, he won a first prize for solfège and prizes in piano, harmony, and organ; Luigi Cherubini, director of the Conservatoire, described his technique and ability as extraordinary
Martha Argerich Piano 4 Orchestral debut at age eight [3]
Kit Armstrong Piano 5 Concerto debut at eight; Morton Gould Young Composer Award for five consecutive years [4]
Claudio Arrau Piano 5 Could read notes before letters [5]
Daniel Barenboim Piano 7 [6]
Enrique Batiz Piano 5 Now a conductor [7]
Emily Bear Piano 5 Child prodigy who composed and released her first piano album at age five.
Vincenzo Bellini Piano 5 Began studying music theory at two, the piano at three, and by the age of five could apparently play well
Georges Bizet Piano 9 Entered the Paris Conservatory at age nine
Victor Borge Piano 8 Won a full scholarship to the Royal Danish Music Conservatory at age nine [8]
Lili Boulanger Piano, violin, cello, harp Attended Louis Vierne's organ classes at the Paris Conservatoire at age six [9]
Cameron Carpenter Organ 11 Performed J. S. Bach's complete The Well-Tempered Clavier from memory at age eleven.
William Crotch Organ 3 Became a composer and first Principal of the Royal Academy of Music [10]
Georges Cziffra Piano Entered the Franz Liszt Academy at age nine, after some four years performing in a traveling circus
Per Enflo Piano 7 Won the Swedish competition for young pianists at age eleven in 1956 (and again in 1961)
Richard Farrell Piano 4 Made his first radio broadcast at age four; at seven played his own composition (a lament on the death of an archbishop) in a public concert with the Wellington Symphony Orchestra [11][12]
Carl Filtsch Piano 6 Composed concerto at thirteen; died at age fourteen [13]
Horacio Gutiérrez Piano 11 First piano recital at age four. Orchestral debut at age 11 with the Havana Symphony.[14]
Johana Harris Piano 8 Composed works as early as age six and began her career as a concert pianist at age eight

[14]

Felix Hell Organ 8 Became a church organist at age eight; won competitions at age nine; began recording and touring shortly thereafter
Josef Hofmann Piano 10 [15]
Helen Huang Piano 8 Performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra at age eight[16]
Evgeny Kissin Piano 10 Entered music school at age six [17]
Aimi Kobayashi Piano 3 Performed concerts at age three and with orchestras at age seven, performed at Carnegie Hall, etc.
Lang Lang Piano Began playing at age two; entered Beijing Conservatory at age eight; won international competitions at age thirteen [18]
Ingmar Lazar Piano 6 Solo debut at age six at the Salle Gaveau in Paris
Franz Liszt Piano 9 Performed first major concert at age eleven [19]
Leo Ornstein Piano Entered Saint Petersburg Conservatory at age ten [20]
Sergei Prokofiev Piano Composed an opera at age nine
Camille Saint-Saëns Piano 5 Gave his first public recital at age five
Ernest Schelling Piano 4 Began studies in Europe at age seven [21]
Philippa Schuyler Piano 11 [22]
Dimitris Sgouros Piano 7 First public recital at age seven; Carnegie Hall debut at age twelve with Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto [23]
Ruth Slenczynska Piano 11 Played with a full orchestra at age eleven; writer of Forbidden Childhood [24]
Alicia Witt Piano 7 Won several piano competitions in the years after her debut [25]
Yuja Wang Piano 7 Performed in several piano competitions and concerts before moving to Canada at age eleven to study at Mount Royal College.
Noah Grey-Cabey Piano 4 Youngest Person to perform solo in Sydney Opera House

Strings

Name Instrument(s) Debut[1] Notes
Linda Brava Violin 11 Worldwide tours at age eight, leader of the prestigious Helsinki Juniorstrings at thirteen [26][27]
Guila Bustabo Violin 9 Performed with the Chicago Symphony at age 9; made Carnegie Hall debut at age 15
Akim Camara Violin 2 Performed "Schneefloeckchen, Weissbroeckchen" with the Marzahn Hellersdorf School of Music at age 2; with Andre Rieu at the Waldbuehne at age 3; with Andre Rieu at Radio City Music Hall at age 5;[28] with Wolfgang Fischer at age 6 & Richard Clayderman at age 7 (2009).[29]
Sarah Chang Violin 8 [30]
Jacqueline du Pré Cello 8 [31]
Midori Goto Violin 11 [32]
Ryu Goto Violin 7 [33]
Ida Haendel Violin Prizewinner in Henryk Wieniawski International Violin Competition at age six [34]
Jascha Heifetz Violin 7 [35]
Mayuko Kamio Violin 10 [36]
Koh Gabriel Kameda Violin 9 Orchestral debut at thirteen performed the violin concerto No. 5 by Henri Vieuxtemps with the Baden-Baden Philharmonic Orchestra
Rachel Lee Violin 8 She has studied at the Juilliard School since age 8
Yo-Yo Ma Cello 5 Performed for audiences at 5; performed for John F. Kennedy at 7; appeared on TV at 8
Yehudi Menuhin Violin 7 [37]
Anne Akiko Meyers Violin 7 [38]
Stefan Milenković Violin 10 First international award at age seven
Alma Moodie Violin 6 Entered Brussels Conservatory at age 9; premiered concertos by Kurt Atterberg, Hans Pfitzner and Ernst Krenek[39]
Anne-Sophie Mutter Violin 9
David Oistrakh Violin 6 [40]
Gregor Piatigorsky Cello Entered the Moscow Conservatory at age eleven; headed a quartet at age fifteen [41]
Michael Rabin Violin 10 Could "keep beat" at age one [42]
Florizel von Reuter Violin 10 Graduated from Geneva Conservatory at age 11, 1901 [43]
Ruggiero Ricci Violin 10 Began international tours at age fourteen [44]
Clara Rockmore Violin, theremin 9 Entered the Imperial Conservatory at age five, the youngest ever student [45]
Leo Smith Cello 8

[15]

Frank Peter Zimmermann Violin 10 [46]

Winds

Name Instrument(s) Debut[1] Notes
Raphael Severe Clarinet 11 Played Mozart clarinet concerto in China only three years after starting to learn the clarinet.[16]

|Julian Bliss | style="text-align:center;"|Clarinet | style="text-align:center;"|4 |Began playing the clarinet at the age of 4. Currently a virtuoso touring musician. Has played for British royalty.] |}

Composing and conducting

Name Talent Debut[47] Notes
Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga (1806–1826) Composer 11 Composed a two-act opera at age thirteen [48]
Samuel Barber (1910–1981) Composer, conductor 7 Attempted an opera at age ten; attended the Curtis Institute of Music at age fourteen [49]
Georges Bizet (1838–1875) Composer Entered the Paris Conservatoire at age ten [50]
Frédéric Chopin Composer 7 Began concerts and polonaises at age seven; attained notability by age fifteen [51]
Ruth Gipps Composer 8 [52]
Morton Gould Composer, conductor 6 [53]
Jay Greenberg (born 1991) Composer 12 Entered Juilliard School at age ten; composed five symphonies by age twelve [54]
Erich Wolfgang Korngold Composer, conductor 11 [55]
Lorin Maazel (born 1930) Conductor 7 [56]
Felix Mendelssohn Composer, conductor 12 [57]
Gian Carlo Menotti Composer 7 Composed first opera at age eleven [58]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 5 His first compositions were Andante (K. 1a) and Allegro (K. 1b) [59]
Olli Mustonen (born 1967) ? Composed a Divertimento for piano and orchestra at the age of 12, and his piano concerto at the age of 14. [60]
Niccolò Paganini Composer, violinist 7 [61]
Alex Prior (born 1992) Composer, conductor 8 [62]
Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901) Composer 7 Entered the Hochschule für Musik und Theater München at age twelve [63]
Nino Rota (1911–1979) Composer 11 Composed an oratorio at the age of 10, conducting performances in Italy and Paris.
Julian Scriabin (1908–1919) Composer c. 9–11 [64]
Edgard Varèse Composer, conductor 12 Composed first opera at age 12.[65]

Non-classical genres

Bagpipes

  • John Burgess began playing at the age of four before turning professional at the age of sixteen. He was known as the 'King Of The Highland Pipers'.

Country and bluegrass

Folk and world music

Blues

Jazz and jazz-fusion

Post-war genres

R&B, soul,hip-hop, and funk

  • Michael Jackson: Joined his older siblings in the Jackson 5 at age five; his dancing, singing and performing abilities soon surpassed his older siblings; He had his first No.1 as a solo artist at age 13, and his first No.1 (as the lead singer of the Jackson 5) at age 11.[95]
  • Booker T. Jones: Keyboardist for Booker T and the M.G's was profecient at organ, piano, oboe, saxophone, and trombone by the age of 10. He began playing as a professional session musician at 16.
  • Gladys Knight: Began performing at age four; won on the Original Amateur Hour at age seven; toured at age eight [96]
  • Stevie Wonder: Skilled at multiple instruments early; signed to Motown at age eleven; first U.S. number-one hit at age thirteen.[97]
  • Bernie Worrell: Originally classically trained; wrote a concerto at age eight.[98]
  • Victor Wooten: Bela Fleck's bassist, started playing funk-bass at 3.
  • Richie Sambora: Bon Jovi guitarist began playing music at age 3, using various instruments throughout his childhood; he started playing guitar at 12.
  • Sugar Chile Robinson: Won talent contests as singer and pianist from age 3, performed and recorded as a child with Lionel Hampton, Count Basie and others

Pop

Alternative and rock

  • Tori Amos: Attended the Peabody Institute at age five and was expelled from it at 11.[101]
  • Björk: Began classical study at age five; released an album at age eleven [102]
  • Alanis Morissette: Released her first song at age ten, which later became an unsuccessful single; became a protege of a local folk musician; had her own record and record producing company at an early age [103]
  • Wolfgang Van Halen: Son of Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen, Wolfgang began playing on-stage with the band at age 13, and was a full member of Van Halen at age 15. He plays guitar, electric bass, drums, and keyboard.
  • Steve Winwood: Played organ in the "The Ron Atkinson Band" at age eight;[104] was backing blues legends by age thirteen on United Kingdom tours; became the keyboardist for The Spencer Davis Group at age fifteen [105]
  • Charly Garcia: Played piano at age of three, gifted. He has absolute pitch.
  • Vangelis: Was composing at age of four.
  • Jason Becker: Gifted electric guitarist afflicted with ALS
  • Jordan Rudess: entered the Juilliard School of Music Pre-College Division for classical piano training at age nine. He currently plays keyboards, continuum, and synthesizers in the progressive metal band Dream Theater.
  • Nathan Young: Joined the band Anberlin as a drummer at age 12.

Indian Artists

Hindustani-Classical Music

See also

Further reading

References

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