List of child music prodigies

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 a child (Mozart) in formal embroidered 18th century costume, left hand thrust into his waistcoat. He looks directly out of the picture, although his body is turned towards the right.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1763, aged seven.

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.

Classical[edit]

Voice[edit]

Name Debut[1] Notes
Beverly Sills 12 Won on Major Bowes' Amateur Hour for the week of October 26, 1939, performed Gilbert and Sullivan by 16
Julie Andrews 12 Sang at the London Hippodrome.[2]
Sujatha Mohan 10 Performed as Baby Sujatha in the 1970s. Regularly sang with K. J. Yesudas in his stage shows. She recorded her first song, "Kannezhuthy Pottuthottu" when she was in the sixth standard. She debuted in Tamil through the song "Kaadhal Oviyam Kandein" from Kavikuyil (1977). She completed more than 2000 stage shows before her 18th age.[citation needed]
M. Balamuralikrishna 8 A prodigy vocalist and composer who had composed in all 72 melakartha ragas by the age of fifteen.[3]
Kumar Gandharva 12
Aria Tesolin 8 Sang Habanera from Carmen by Bizet and Libiamo ne' lieti calici from La Traviata by Verdi with Canada's Three Tenors at Mel Lastman Square, Toronto, on August 3, 2002[4]
Jackie Evancho 10 2nd place on America's Got Talent at age 10,[5][6] and, still aged 10, the youngest solo artist ever to release a platinum-selling album.[7][8] At age 11, Evancho also became the youngest artist ever to debut in the UK in the top 5,[9] the youngest person ever to have a special on the PBS Great Performances television series,[10] and the youngest person ever to sing a solo concert at Lincoln Center.[5]

Piano and organ[edit]

Name Instrument(s) Debut[1] Notes
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 six[11]
Claudio Arrau Piano 5 Could read notes before letters[12]
Daniel Barenboim Piano 7 [13]
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[14]
Ethan Bortnick Piano 6 Perfect pitch at age 3, Composing at age 5, First Sold out headline Concert at age 6, Orchestral debut at age 8 with the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra. Youngest PBS National Concert headliner and Certified by Guinness World Records as the Youngest Headline Artist. Coincidentally was born a few hours after the death of Victor Borge and possessing the same humor and comedic timing. [15][16][17][18][19]
Lili Boulanger Piano, violin, cello, harp Attended Louis Vierne's organ classes at the Paris Conservatoire at age six[20]
Frédéric Chopin Piano 7 [21]
Georges Cziffra Piano Entered the Franz Liszt Academy at age nine, after some four years performing in a traveling circus
Glenn Gould Piano 4[22] Attended The Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto) at age 10; passing his final Conservatory examination in piano with the "highest marks of any candidate"; attaining "professional standing as a pianist" at age 12[23]
Horacio Gutiérrez Piano 11 First piano recital at age four. Orchestral debut at age 11 with the Havana Symphony.[24]
Josef Hofmann Piano 10 [25]
Leslie Howard Piano 5 Perfect pitch, and ability to recall anything by ear, first cited in The Herald, Melbourne, when he was 5 years old. Aged 5, he performed for Fox Movietone News, and at aged 9 on Australian national television. His mature début as a pianist came at the age of 13, with Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto.
Evgeny Kissin Piano 10 Entered music school at age six[26]
Elizaveta Klyuchereva Piano 6 Entered the Moscow Conservatory music school at age six[27]
Franz Liszt Piano 9 Performed first major concert at age eleven [28]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Piano, violin 4 One of the most prolific composers of the Classical Era[29]
Sergei Prokofiev Piano Composed an opera at age nine
Camille Saint-Saëns Piano 5 Gave his first public recital at age five
Clara Isabella Siegle Piano 4 Studied under Irish-born mother from age four. Prize-winner in Nurnberg from 2007 to 2015.[30]
Dimitris Sgouros Piano 7 First public recital at age seven; Carnegie Hall debut at age twelve with Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto[31]

Strings[edit]

Name Instrument(s) Debut[1] Notes
Linda Brava Violin 11 Worldwide tours at age eight, leader of the prestigious Helsinki Juniorstrings at thirteen[32][33]
George Bridgetower Violin 11
Guila Bustabo Violin 9 Performed with the Chicago Symphony at age 9; made Carnegie Hall debut at age 15
Akim Camara Violin 3 Performed "Schneeflöckchen, Weißröckchen" with the Marzahn Hellersdorf School of Music at age 2; with Andre Rieu at the Waldbühne at age 3; with Andre Rieu at Radio City Music Hall at age 5;[34] with Wolfgang Fischer at age 6 & Richard Clayderman at age 7 (2009).[35]
Sarah Chang Violin 5 Started performing at age 5, auditioned for the Juilliard School at age 6 and professional debut came when she performed Paganini's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the New York Philharmonic at age 8. Recorded her first studio album called "Debut" at age 9. Has performed with most major international orchestras by age 11.[36]
Jacqueline du Pré Cello 8 [37]
Midori Goto Violin 11 [38]
Ryu Goto Violin 7 [39]
Ida Haendel Violin Prizewinner in Henryk Wieniawski International Violin Competition at age six[40]
Jascha Heifetz Violin 7 [41]
Brianna Kahane Violin 3 Performed in her first concert when she was six. Started at New York's Julliard School at age nine.[42]
Mayuko Kamio Violin 10 [43]
Koh Gabriel Kameda Violin 9 Orchestral debut at thirteen performed the violin concerto No. 5 by Henri Vieuxtemps with the Baden-Baden Philharmonic Orchestra
Apollinaire de Kontski Violin 4 Appeared in public at the age of four, playing a concerto by Pierre Rode.[44]
Rachel Lee Violin 8 She has studied at the Juilliard School since age 8
Thomas Linley the Younger Violin 7 (earliest recorded performance) Born the same year as Mozart; the two met in Italy and became friends
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 [45]
Anne Akiko Meyers Violin 7 [46]
Maria Milanollo Violin 6 Learned violin as a toddler with elder sister Teresa. Debuted age 6 and toured Europe as a duo with Teresa. Nicknamed "Madamoiselle Staccato" for her liveliness. Untimely death 1848 (age 16).
Teresa Milanollo Violin 9 Learned violin from age 4, debut age 9. Tutors: Lafont, Habeneck, de Bériot. Admired by Berlioz, Chopin, Johann Strauss the Elder, Liszt, Meyerbeer. Gave scores of acclaimed concerts throughout Europe in major halls and royal courts, both solo and as duo with younger sister Maria, whom she coached. Nicknamed "Mademoiselle Adagio" for her seriousness.
Stefan Milenković Violin 3 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[47]
Anne-Sophie Mutter Violin 9
David Oistrakh Violin 6 [48]
Gregor Piatigorsky Cello Entered the Moscow Conservatory at age eleven; headed a quartet at age fifteen[49]
Michael Rabin Violin 10 Could "keep beat" at age one[50] Carnegie Hall debut age 13 [51]
Florizel von Reuter Violin 10 Graduated from Geneva Conservatory at age 11, 1901[52]
Ruggiero Ricci Violin 10 Began international tours at age fourteen[53]
Clara Rockmore Violin, theremin 9 Entered the Imperial Conservatory at age five, the youngest ever student[54]
Henriett Seth F. Contrabass 10 Gave up creative music career altogether at age 13[55]
Oscar Shumsky Violin 4 Began studying the violin at 3. Made his first concerts at 4. Began his orchestral career as a soloist under the baton of Leopold Stokowski at 7. Played for Kreisler his own candenzas to the Beethoven violin concerto after having memorized them by ear while attending two concerts of the Viennese master at 8. Was Leopold Auer's youngest pupil ever (8). Was able to play the piano, violin and viola at a professional level.[56][57][58]
Leo Smith Cello 8 [59]
Frank Peter Zimmermann Violin 10 [60]

Winds[edit]

Name Instrument(s) Debut[1] Notes
Julian Bliss Clarinet 4 Began playing the clarinet at the age of 4. Currently a virtuoso touring musician. Has played for British royalty.
Raphael Severe Clarinet 11 Played Mozart clarinet concerto in China only three years after starting to learn the clarinet.[61]
Mimi Stillman Flute 12 Youngest wind player accepted to Curtis Institute of Music; two years after debut in Boston.[62]
Georges Gillet Oboe 12 Was accepted into the Conservatoire de Paris within a year of beginning to play the oboe—graduated with a premier prix at age 15.[63]

Composing and conducting[edit]

Name Talent Debut[64] Notes
Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga (1806–1826) Composer 11 Composed a two-act opera at age thirteen[65]
Samuel Barber (1910–1981) Composer, conductor 7 Attempted an opera at age ten; attended the Curtis Institute of Music at age fourteen[66]
Georges Bizet (1838–1875) Composer Entered the Paris Conservatoire at age ten[67]
Frédéric Chopin Composer 7 Began concerts and polonaises at age seven; attained notability by age fifteen[68]
Alma Deutscher (born 2005) Composer, violinist, pianist 6 Composed Sonata in E-flat by Alma in 2011 followed by her short opera The Sweeper of Dreams in 2012.[69]
Ruth Gipps Composer 8 [70]
Morton Gould Composer, conductor 6 [71]
Jay Greenberg (born 1991) Composer 12 Entered Juilliard School at age ten; composed five symphonies by age twelve[72]
Erich Wolfgang Korngold Composer, conductor 11 [73]
Rued Langgaard Composer, organist 11 Composed his first symphony (60 minutes duration) at the age of 14[74]
Lorin Maazel (1930–2014) Conductor 7 [75]
Frederik Magle (born 1977) Composer, organist, pianist 7 [76][77]
Felix Mendelssohn Composer, conductor 12 [78]
Gian Carlo Menotti Composer 7 Composed first opera at age eleven[79]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 4 His first compositions were Andante (K. 1a) and Allegro (K. 1b)[80]
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.[81]
Niccolò Paganini Composer, violinist 7 [82]
Alex Prior (born 1992) Composer, conductor 8 [83]
Henry Purcell (1659(?) – 1695) Composer, organist, choir master 11 A great composer, unsurpassed in England for 200 years.[84]
Josef Rheinberger (1839–1901) Composer 7 Entered the Hochschule für Musik und Theater München at age twelve[85]
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 [86]
Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871–1927) Composer, pianist 9 Composed his first piano sonata at the age of 9, the next at 10.
Edgard Varèse Composer, conductor 12 Composed first opera at age 12.[87]

Non-classical genres[edit]

Bagpipes[edit]

  • 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[edit]

Folk and world music[edit]

Blues[edit]

Jazz and jazz-fusion[edit]

[114]

  • Buddy Rich: Began playing drums at 18 months old; was a bandleader by age eleven [115]
  • Sugar Chile Robinson: A pianist in the jazz subgenre of boogie-woogie, he had his first public performance at the age of 3; he retired from active performing at age 13.[116]
  • Hilton Ruiz: Performed at Carnegie Recital Hall at age eight; played in an accordion symphony at age nine [117][118]
  • Tony Royster Jr: Began playing drums at the age of 3. He is known for winning the Guitar Center National Drum-Off competition Hollywood in 1995 (at the age of 11). He frequently tours with rapper Jay Z as part of his live band.
  • Consuelo Velázquez: Began playing at age four;[119] performed piano concerto at age six;[120] wrote Bésame Mucho at age sixteen
  • Mary Lou Williams: Taught herself piano before age five; played professionally by age thirteen [121]
  • Keith Jarrett: Pianist
  • Tony Williams: Drummer, performed professionally at age 13, released debut at age 18, performed with Miles Davis at age 17, was a key pioneer in jazz-fusion at age 23.

Post-war genres[edit]

R&B, soul, and funk[edit]

Pop[edit]

Alternative and rock[edit]

Indian artists[edit]

Indian-classical music[edit]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

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