Recently a reader shared a piano concerto performed by then-eleven-year-old Alma Deutscher from Britain. I was glad to see this young virtuoso, but with shows like America’s Got Talent and Britain’s Got Talent, child prodigy performers are now a dime a dozen. However, when I started listening to Alma’s piano concerto, I did not recognize the music. As I paid closer attention to the video, I realized that this eleven-year-old girl was not just playing this concerto, she had composed it.
And what a concerto it was! It had the lightness of Mozart, the delicacy of Chopin, the dynamism of Mendelssohn, and the Hollywood (modern) flair of Korngold. It is terrific!
Most classical music I listen to was written between the 17th and early 20th centuries. There are exceptions, like Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (composed in 1957), the adagio from the ballet Spartacus, by Aram Khachaturian (composed in 1954), and maybe a few others. But I cannot name a single piano concerto, or a symphony, written by a modern, living composer that I enjoy listening to. (There may be some wonderful pieces I don’t know about. If you know any, please send them my way. Knowing my readers, I suspect they’ll take up that challenge. Thank you!)
I would also like to point out that composing a concerto is an incredible undertaking – you have to write music for a dozen instruments. An eleven-year-old doing it and doing it so incredibly well gives me hope. Yes, hope that classical music did not peak in Europe in the 19th and very early 20th centuries and that I won’t be listening only to music composed by dead white men for the rest of my life.
Alma also plays violin and has composed a violin concerto, too. I will share both the piano and violin concertos. I really hope you enjoy them as much I did.