Jay Greenberg (composer)

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Jay "Bluejay" Greenberg (born December 13, 1991) is an American composer and former child prodigy who entered the Juilliard School in 2002 at age 10.

Life and work[edit]

Greenberg was born in New Haven, Connecticut. He caught the attention of the American media through the sponsorship of Juilliard instructor Samuel Zyman during a CBS News 60 Minutes broadcast on November 28, 2004, when Greenberg was 12, and again in November 2006. Zyman told 60 Minutes, "We are talking about a prodigy of the level of the greatest prodigies in history, when it comes to composition. I am talking about the likes of Mozart, and Mendelssohn, and Saint-Saëns."[1][2]

Greenberg's primary composition instructor was Samuel Adler.

He composes primarily on his computer using a music notation program and is mostly known for his work Overture to 9-11 about the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, which was featured on PRI's From the Top. On 9/11, he was living in Republic of Macedonia but has since returned to the United States. Neither his father, Robert Greenberg, a professor of Slavic languages at Yale University nor his Israeli-born mother have musical backgrounds, but Greenberg found himself attracted to music from an early age, having begun playing the cello at 2 years old.

Greenberg has said he hears the music performed inside his head, like many composers, and often several musical pieces simultaneously, and he is then able to simply notate what he has listened to, and rarely needs to make corrections to what he has notated.

The Sony Classical label released his first CD on August 15, 2006; it includes his Symphony No. 5 and String Quintet[3] as performed by the London Symphony Orchestra under the direction of José Serebrier and by the Juilliard String Quartet with cellist Darrett Adkins respectively.[4]

On October 28, 2007, Joshua Bell gave the premiere of Greenberg's Violin Concerto at Carnegie Hall, performing with the Orchestra of St. Luke's.[5]

The 2011 contemporary classical album Troika includes Jay Greenberg's song "I still keep mute", setting a poem by Vladimir Nabokov.[6]

Greenberg's works are published by G. Schirmer.[7]

As of 2012 Greenberg is reading music at Peterhouse, Cambridge.[8]

He is currently pursuing a DMus degree at the University of Auckland, under the supervision of Prof. Eve de Castro Robinson.[9]


Greenberg's compositions include the following:[10]


  • Symphony No. 5 (2005)
  • Intelligent Life (2006)
  • Skyline Dances - A Terpsichorean Couplet (2009) (commissioned by a consortium of youth orchestras)


  • Concerto for Piano Trio and Orchestra (2007)
  • Violin Concerto (2007), commissioned by Joshua Bell

Chamber works[edit]

  • String Quintet (2004)
  • Sonata for violoncello and piano (2004)
  • Hexalogue for wind quintet and piano (2005)
  • Four Scenes for double string quartet (2008)
  • Quintet for Brass, op. 25 (2012)

Stage works[edit]


  1. ^ Scott Pelley, 'Blue Jay' Spreads His Wings, 60 Minutes
  2. ^ Scott Pelley, "Prodigy, 12, Compared To Mozart," (CBS News), November 24, 2004
  3. ^ Barrymore Laurence Scherer, A History of American Classical Music. Naperville, Illinois: Sourcebooks, Inc. (2007): 227. "Prodigy Jay Greenberg (b. 1991) whose Fifth Symphony, begun when he was twelve, and String Quintet (both recorded in 2006), bespeak extraordinary gifts."
  4. ^ Gurewitsch, Matthew (13 August 2006). "Early Works of a New Composer (Very Early, in Fact)". New York Times.
  5. ^ Steinberg, Martin (29 October 2007). "Premiere of teen composer's concerto". USA Today
  6. ^ France Musique (14 December 2011). "Pourquoi la poésie russe est très belle ?"[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Jay Greenberg at G. Schirmer Inc".
  8. ^ G. Schirmer. Jay Greenberg
  9. ^ University of Auckland. Jay Greenberg's page
  10. ^ "Jay Greenberg, Work List".
  11. ^ Ross, Alex (28 June 2010). "Music in Motion, New scores at New York City Ballet. The New Yorker.

External links[edit]