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]

In the tables for the classical genre, the oldest entries are Henry Purcell (born 1659) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (born 1756) while the youngest are Alma Deutscher and Sreya Jayadeep (both born 2005).

Voice[edit]

Name Born Debut[1] Notes
Beverly Sills 1929 12 Won on Major Bowes' Amateur Hour for the week of October 26, 1939, performed Gilbert and Sullivan by 16
Julie Andrews 1935 12 Sang at the London Hippodrome.[2]
Sujatha Mohan 1963 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 1930 8 A prodigy vocalist and composer who had composed in all 72 melakartha ragas by the age of fifteen.[3]
Kumar Gandharva 1924 12
Aria Tesolin 1993 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 2000 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]
Sreya Jayadeep 2005 8 Winner of Surya Super Singer TV reality show. Believed to have started talking at the age of eight months. Learnt Carnatic Music at the age of three, and was just eight when she sang for a film named 'Weeping Boy' and also when winning Surya Super Singer. Within three years, she has become a singing sensation, and she also toured allover the world.

Piano and organ[edit]

Name Born Instrument Debut[1] Notes
Martha Argerich 1941 Piano 4 Orchestral debut at age six[11]
Kit Armstrong 1992 Piano 5 Concerto debut at eight; Morton Gould Young Composer Award for five consecutive years[12]
Claudio Arrau 1903 Piano 5 Could read notes before letters[13]
Daniel Barenboim 1942 Piano 7 [14]
Enrique Batiz 1942 Piano 5 Now a conductor[15]
Emily Bear 2001 Piano 5 Composed and released her first piano album at age five
Vincenzo Bellini 1801 Piano 5 Began studying music theory at two, the piano at three, and by the age of five could apparently play well
Georges Bizet 1838 Piano 9 Entered the Paris Conservatory at age nine
Victor Borge 1909 Piano 8 Won a full scholarship to the Royal Danish Music Conservatory at age nine[16]
Ethan Bortnick 2000 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.[17][18][19][20][21]
Lili Boulanger 1893 Piano, violin, cello, harp Attended Louis Vierne's organ classes at the Paris Conservatoire at age six[22]
Cameron Carpenter 1981 Organ 11 Performed J. S. Bach's complete The Well-Tempered Clavier from memory at age eleven.
Frédéric Chopin 1810 Piano 7 [23]
William Crotch 1775 Organ 3 Became a composer and first Principal of the Royal Academy of Music[24]
Georges Cziffra 1921 Piano Entered the Franz Liszt Academy at age nine, after some four years performing in a traveling circus
Per Enflo 1944 Piano 7 Won the Swedish competition for young pianists at age eleven in 1956 (and again in 1961)
Richard Farrell 1926 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[25][26]
Carl Filtsch 1830 Piano 6 Composed concerto at thirteen; died at age fourteen[27]
Glenn Gould 1932 Piano 4[28] 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[29]
Horacio Gutiérrez 1948 Piano 11 First piano recital at age four. Orchestral debut at age 11 with the Havana Symphony.[30]
Johana Harris 1912 Piano 8 Composed works as early as age six and began her career as a concert pianist at age eight

[8]

Margaret Rosezarian Harris 1943 Piano 3 Toured the US between ages 3 and 6; went on to success in adulthood as a conductor and Broadway musical director[31]
Felix Hell 1985 Organ 8 Became a church organist at age eight; won competitions at age nine; began recording and touring shortly thereafter
Josef Hofmann 1876 Piano 10 [32]
Leslie Howard 1948 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.
Helen Huang 1982 Piano 8 Performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra at age eight[33]
Evgeny Kissin 1971 Piano 10 Entered music school at age six[34]
Elizaveta Klyuchereva 1999 Piano 6 Entered the Moscow Conservatory music school at age six[35]
Aimi Kobayashi 1995 Piano 3 Performed concerts at age three and with orchestras at age seven, performed at Carnegie Hall, etc.
Lang Lang 1982 Piano Began playing at age two; entered Beijing Conservatory at age eight; won international competitions at age thirteen[36]
Ingmar Lazar 1993 Piano 6 Solo debut at age six at the Salle Gaveau in Paris
Evan Le 2011 Piano 4 Appeared at age 4 in the NBC primetime show, "Little Big Shots"[37]
Franz Liszt 1811 Piano 9 Performed first major concert at age eleven [38]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 1756 Piano, violin 4 One of the most prolific composers of the Classical Era[39]
Yukie Nishimura 1967 Piano 5 Composed her first piece at this age, and hence won the competition at the age of 8.
Leo Ornstein 1895 Piano Entered Saint Petersburg Conservatory at age ten[40]
Sergei Prokofiev 1891 Piano Composed an opera at age nine
Camille Saint-Saëns 1835 Piano 5 Gave his first public recital at age five
Ernest Schelling 1876 Piano 4 Began studies in Europe at age seven[41]
Philippa Schuyler 1931 Piano 11 [42]
Clara Isabella Siegle 2000 Piano 4 Studied under Irish-born mother from age four. Prize-winner in Nurnberg from 2007 to 2015.[43]
Dimitris Sgouros 1969 Piano 7 First public recital at age seven; Carnegie Hall debut at age twelve with Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto[44]
Ruth Slenczynska 1925 Piano 11 Played with a full orchestra at age eleven; writer of Forbidden Childhood[45]
Claudette Sorel 1932 Piano 10 Debuted in recital at New York's Town Hall at age ten, and played with the New York Philharmonic at age eleven. Received a scholarship to Juilliard at age ten and became its youngest graduate up to that time.[46]
Conrad Tao 1994 Piano, violin, composing 4 First public recital at four; first concerto at eight[47]
Nobuyuki Tsujii 1988 Piano 10 Performed with the Century Orchestra, Osaka, at age 10; first recital at age 12[48]
Alicia Witt 1975 Piano 7 Won several piano competitions in the years after her debut[49] Aside from being a music prodigy, "Alicia, possibly started reading at the age of six-and-a-half, seven months".[50] At two years, she was reading college text books.[50]
Yuja Wang 1987 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 1995 Piano 4 Youngest Person to perform solo in Sydney Opera House
Joey Alexander 2003 Piano 6 At the age of six he could play Thelonious Monk by ear.
Adrian Romoff 2005 Piano 7 Began learning piano at the age of 4. Played for Ellen DeGeneres at the age of 7, was on America's Got Talent when he was 9 and was accepted into Juilliard at 9. He performed at Carnegie Hall many times, with the first when he was 7.

Strings[edit]

Name Born Instrument(s) Debut[1] Notes
Linda Brava 1970 Violin 11 Worldwide tours at age eight, leader of the prestigious Helsinki Juniorstrings at thirteen[51][52]
George Bridgetower 1778 Violin 11
Guila Bustabo 1926 Violin 9 Performed with the Chicago Symphony at age 9; made Carnegie Hall debut at age 15
Akim Camara 2000 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;[53] with Wolfgang Fischer at age 6 & Richard Clayderman at age 7 (2009).[54]
Sarah Chang 1980 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.[55]
Jacqueline du Pré 1945 Cello 8 [56]
Midori Goto 1971 Violin 11 [57]
Ryu Goto 1988 Violin 7 [58]
Ida Haendel 1928 Violin Prizewinner in Henryk Wieniawski International Violin Competition at age six[59]
Jascha Heifetz 1901 Violin 7 [60]
Brianna Kahane 2002 Violin 3 Performed in her first concert when she was six. Started at New York's Juilliard School at age nine.[61]
Mayuko Kamio 1986 Violin 10 [62]
Koh Gabriel Kameda 1975 Violin 9 Orchestral debut at thirteen performed the violin concerto No. 5 by Henri Vieuxtemps with the Baden-Baden Philharmonic Orchestra
Apollinaire de Kontski 1825 Violin 4 Appeared in public at the age of four, playing a concerto by Pierre Rode.[63]
Rachel Lee 1988 Violin 8 She has studied at the Juilliard School since age 8
Thomas Linley the Younger 1756 Violin 7 Born the same year as Mozart; the two met in Italy and became friends
Yo-Yo Ma 1955 Cello 5 Performed for audiences at 5; performed for John F. Kennedy at 7; appeared on TV at 8
Yehudi Menuhin 1916 Violin 7 [64]
Anne Akiko Meyers 1970 Violin 7 [65]
Maria Milanollo 1832 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 1827 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 1977 Violin 3 First international award at age seven
Alma Moodie 1898 Violin 6 Entered Brussels Conservatory at age 9; premiered concertos by Kurt Atterberg, Hans Pfitzner and Ernst Krenek[66]
Anne-Sophie Mutter 1963 Violin 9
David Oistrakh 1908 Violin 6 [67]
Gregor Piatigorsky 1903 Cello Entered the Moscow Conservatory at age eleven; headed a quartet at age fifteen[68]
Michael Rabin 1936 Violin 10 Could "keep beat" at age one[69] Carnegie Hall debut age 13 [70]
Florizel von Reuter 1890 Violin 10 Graduated from Geneva Conservatory at age 11, 1901[71]
Ruggiero Ricci 1918 Violin 10 Began international tours at age fourteen[72]
Clara Rockmore 1911 Violin, theremin 9 Entered the Imperial Conservatory at age five, the youngest ever student[73]
Henriett Seth F. 1980 Contrabass 10 Gave up creative music career altogether at age 13[74]
Oscar Shumsky 1917 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.[75][76][77]
Esperanza Spalding 1984 Violin 5 Began performing violin and piano with the Chamber Music Society of Oregon at age five; her mother noted her ability when she was able to reproduce Beethoven by ear at age four.[78]
Leo Smith 1881 Cello 8 [79]
Frank Peter Zimmermann 1965 Violin 10 [80]

Winds[edit]

Name Born Instrument(s) Debut[1] Notes
Julian Bliss 1989 Clarinet 4 Began playing the clarinet at the age of 4. Currently a virtuoso touring musician. Has played for British royalty.
Raphael Severe 1994 Clarinet 11 Played Mozart clarinet concerto in China only three years after starting to learn the clarinet.[81]
Mimi Stillman 1982 Flute 12 Youngest wind player accepted to Curtis Institute of Music; two years after debut in Boston.[82]
Georges Gillet 1854 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.[83]

Composing and conducting[edit]

Name Born Talent Debut[84] Notes
Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga 1806 Composer 11 Composed a two-act opera at age thirteen[85]
Samuel Barber 1910 Composer, conductor 7 Attempted an opera at age ten; attended the Curtis Institute of Music at age fourteen[86]
Georges Bizet 1838 Composer Entered the Paris Conservatoire at age ten[87]
Frédéric Chopin 1810 Composer 7 Began concerts and polonaises at age seven; attained notability by age fifteen[88]
Alma Deutscher 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.[89][better source needed]
Ruth Gipps 1921 Composer 8 [90]
Morton Gould 1913 Composer, conductor 6 [91]
Jay Greenberg 1991 Composer 12 Entered Juilliard School at age ten; composed five symphonies by age twelve[92]
Erich Wolfgang Korngold 1897 Composer, conductor 11 [93]
Rued Langgaard 1893 Composer, organist 11 Composed his first symphony (60 minutes duration) at the age of 14[94]
Lorin Maazel 1930 Conductor 7 [95]
Frederik Magle 1977 Composer, organist, pianist 7 [96][97]
Felix Mendelssohn 1809 Composer, conductor 12 [98]
Gian Carlo Menotti 1911 Composer 7 Composed first opera at age eleven[99]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 1756 Composer 4 His first compositions were Andante (K. 1a) and Allegro (K. 1b)[100]
Olli Mustonen 1967 Composer Composed a Divertimento for piano and orchestra at the age of 12, and his piano concerto at the age of 14.[101]
Niccolò Paganini 1782 Composer, violinist 7 [102]
Alex Prior 1992 Composer, conductor 8 [103]
Henry Purcell 1659 Composer, organist, choir master 11 A great composer, unsurpassed in England for 200 years.[104]
Josef Rheinberger 1839 Composer 7 Entered the Hochschule für Musik und Theater München at age twelve[105]
Nino Rota 1911 Composer 11 Composed an oratorio at the age of 10, conducting performances in Italy and Paris.
Julian Scriabin 1908 Composer 9? [106]
Wilhelm Stenhammar 1871 Composer, pianist 9 Composed his first piano sonata at the age of 9, the next at 10.
Edgard Varèse 1883 Composer, conductor 12 Composed first opera at age 12.[107]
Gianni Caccese 2003 Composer. violinist, pianist, and flutist 6 Composed first composition at the age of 6; currently has written over 100 pieces (2017)

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]

  • Joey Alexander: At the age of six he could play Theolonious Monk by ear on the piano. At age 12, he was nominated for The 58th Grammy Award in best improvised Jazz solo and best Jazz instrumental album categories.
  • Shelly Berg: Entered the Cleveland Institute of Music at age six; was a professional musician at age thirteen[124]
  • Andy Bey: He played at clubs at 5, By age 12 he performed at the Apollo Theater with Louis Jordan[125] and had his first recording.[126]
  • Bix Biederbecke: Self-taught piano and cornet player, learning the first at a particularly young age (playing with his hands overhead while standing). Article written about him in Davenport (Iowa) newspaper at age 7, and went on to great fame before dying probably of alcoholism at age 28.
  • Francesco Cafiso: He worked with Franco D'Andrea at age 11 or 12.[127]
  • Terri Lyne Carrington: Awarded a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music at age eleven [128]
  • Dennis Chambers: began playing drums at age three, was professional at 9, was an 'in demand' drummer on the NYC music scene at the age of 14, and was a member of Parliament-Funkadelic at the age of 18.
  • Cyrus Chestnut: Entered the Peabody Institute at age nine [129]
  • Cy Coleman: Played in Carnegie Hall at age seven [130]
  • Eldar Djangirov: "Discovered" at age nine; became the youngest musician to appear on Piano Jazz at age twelve; released his first CD at age fourteen [131]
  • Taylor Eigsti: Opened for David Benoit at age eight and played with Dave Brubeck at age twelve [132]
  • Herbie Hancock: Performed on piano with the Chicago symphony at age eleven; began playing jazz later in college [133]
  • Biréli Lagrène: Won a Gypsy music festival in Strasbourg at age eight and performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival at thirteen.
  • Lucciano Pizzichini: Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2000, Lucciano emigrated with his parents at 11 months. Learned on a one-string guitar at age 2, began reading notes and playing simple folk songs and classical pieces by Carcassi at age 3. By age 4, he was formally reading notation and playing classical guitar pieces. By age 6, Lucciano completed the first guitar method book from the Berklee School of Music, and various classical guitar techniques. Received publicity in Florida while playing many classic rock songs professionally with his father, Adrian Pizzichini, By age 7, Lucciano was playing intricate pieces by Joe Pass and Pat Martino. At age 8, was the youngest musician to be endorsed by Gibson Guitars.[134]
  • Buddy Rich: Began playing drums at 18 months old; was a bandleader by age eleven [135]
  • 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.[136]
  • Hilton Ruiz: Performed at Carnegie Recital Hall at age eight; played in an accordion symphony at age nine [137][138]
  • 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;[139] performed piano concerto at age six;[140] wrote Bésame Mucho at age sixteen
  • Mary Lou Williams: Taught herself piano before age five; played professionally by age thirteen [141]
  • 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]

  • Michael Jackson: Joined his older siblings in the Jackson 5 at age five; his dancing, singing and performing abilities soon surpassed his older siblings, made his professional recording debut at the age of 9; scored his first number one hit as member of the Jackson 5 at age 11 and his first number one single as a soloist at 13.[142]
  • Booker T. Jones: Keyboardist for Booker T and the M.G's was proficient 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 [143]
  • Stevie Wonder: Skilled at multiple instruments early; signed to Motown at age eleven; first U.S. number-one hit at age thirteen.[144]
  • Bernie Worrell: Originally classically trained; wrote a concerto at age eight.[145]
  • Victor Wooten: Bela Fleck's bassist, started playing funk-bass at 3.
  • 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
  • Billy Preston: Began singing and playing organ in church at the age of 3, played organ for gospel musicians Mahalia Jackson and James Cleveland before he was 10, sang with Nat King Cole on his nationally televised show at 11, appeared in a movie playing a young W.C. Handy in the loosely made biopic, St. Louis Blues at 12, joined Little Richard's group at the age of 15, played on Sam Cooke's album, Night Beat, and released his first major label album at the age of 16.
  • Aretha Franklin: Began singing and playing piano and organ in church at age 4, became a soloist at age 10, released her first album at age 14.
  • Frankie Lymon: Became lead singer of The Teenagers when he was 12; his first hit single was released when he was 13; became the world's first black teenaged pop star.

Pop[edit]

Alternative and rock[edit]

Indian artists[edit]

Indian-classical music[edit]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Musical Prodigies: Masters at an Early Age by Renee B. Fisher ISBN 0-8096-1854-0
  • Musical Prodigies: Perilous Journeys, Remarkable Lives by Claude Kenneson ISBN 1-57467-046-8

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