Although there have been slight variations in the definition of a prodigy, the best definition is ‘a child who shows early signs of extraordinary talent or exceptional ability. A youngster who is too young to be as old and talented as he is.’
Most of the early composers started out as performers and were expected to compose compositions spontaneously on their instruments.
Wolfgang Mozart (1756-1791) at the age of four years old was able to play long musical compositions from memory and he composed short works at five years old. At seven years old, Mozart spent an hour at the organ in a Heidelberg church; ‘the dean overcome with emotion, ordered an inscription carved on the organ case attesting to the name and age of the boy and the date of the modern miracle he had witnessed.’ At eight years old Mozart played in London together with Johann Bach and Mozart was billed as a ‘Prodigy of Nature.’
Franz Schubert (1797-1828) at an extremely early age learned how to play violin, viola, piano and the organ. Schubert was born into a family of musicians. One of his brothers wrote, ‘Whenever a mistake was made, no matter how small, he would look the guilty one in the face. If Papa, who played the cello was in the wrong, he would say quite shyly and smilingly…Sir, there must be a mistake somewhere!’ At fourteen years old Schubert was composing pieces on scraps of paper. Schubert could composes in the midst of any noise or any other activities taking place around him. He wrote two hundred and fifty songs at seventeen years old.
Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840) wrote his first sonata at eight. He has been referred to as ‘the greatest virtuoso, on any instrument, that has ever lived.’
The list of musical prodigies is very long. Nobody has a good explanation as to why there are so many musical prodigies.
The world has been blessed by these musical prodigies and their music has withstood time. From wherever the source of their inspiration, the world needed, as early as possible, to receive and be blessed by their music.
In an earlier post I related how ancient civilizations recognized the importance and sacredness of music. Manly Hall states, ’Plato, in describing the antiquity of the arts among the Egyptians, declared that songs and poetry had existed in Egypt for at least ten thousand years, and that these were of such an exalted and inspiring nature that only gods or god-like men could have composed them.
The great philosophers of the past recognized harmony as a state that was the immediate prerequisite of beauty. They termed a composite of elements beautiful when the parts existed in harmonious combination.
That these musicians channeled such incredible beauty, at such young ages, bespeaks perhaps of the importance of their music coming as soon as possible, to enrich and beautify our lives.
To inspire and empower.
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