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JoelW Offline OP
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Between Mozart, Mendelssohn and Saint-Saens?

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Before I saw the content of your post, just seeing the title, I was going to say "Mozart, Mendelssohn and Saint-Saens." ha

(except I would have put a comma after Mendelssohn) grin

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Define gifted... And while you're at, how do you measure giftedness?

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From what perspective? Maybe Sans Saens was the most remarkable as a keyboard player. But Mendelssohn at 16 wrote a work (the Octet) which Saints Saens never came close to equaling (and in truth, nor did Mendelssohn), Mozart excelled in a wider range of musical skills as a child and assimilated more styles which combined with a much greater originality led to a vastly superior adult career as a composer.

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Mozart, I know, grew up under the tutelage of his musical father and was surrounded by piano music and expectations. What was the family background of Mendelssohn and Saint Saens? I'm not familiar with their home life as children. I know they all were gifted but I wonder how much their environment nurtured that talent into what they later produced. Wouldn't even a prodigy need to be recognized and given the instrument and tools to become gifted?


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I think Alma Deutscher has to up there. She is truly amazing.


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Mendelssohn. Listen to his early works at the same age as Mozart. There is no comparison.

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Many of us started music lessons at a young age. Can't say Mozart was even self-taught. at a young age of 4 he was in a room with musicians practicing a piece. He picked up a violin and played along without a single lesson. We'd normally describe Mozart's genius as the "Mozart effect". Based on today's definition parents would play recordings of music by Mozart at home while the child is still in the womb. But when Mozart was still an unborn child, his Music hasn't been composed yet. So playing complex music to an unborn child would have the same effect.

Someone like Saint-Saëns learned to play all the Beethoven Sonatas at a young age. Besides Mozart, other composers has to learn to play their instruments (piano, violin, etc). There is a learning curve even when the learning curve is much shorter than an average person.

Someone who is considered a modern day music genius would be Derek Paravicini. He can listen to a piece of music once and reproduce it on piano and even change the style to Boogie-Woogie, Ragtime, etc.

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Originally Posted by Colin Miles
I think Alma Deutscher has to up there. She is truly amazing.

I would absolutely agree!


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Mendelssohn had the most money.


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Where is Beethoven on that list? He had his first concert when he was 7 years old. He improvised during his violin practice which I think he started around 4 years old. And he started composing at 12 years old. And his early works(like when he was still a teenager and wanted to meet Mozart) are just as popular as his middle works(like his 5th symphony) which are just as popular as his late works. For that matter, where is Chopin? He was a piano playing child prodigy like most of the other composers. Like Beethoven, there is a pretty good chance that while he was still quite young, before reaching his teens, Chopin could play the entire Well Tempered Clavier. Also like Beethoven, he loved and respected Bach and his works.

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I think we are getting a bit off-track here! If we define prodigy in terms of instrumental mastery, then we have to mention Liszt and probably Josef Hofmann takes the top prize!

In terms of compositional mastery, then Mendelssohn surely is the winner. The Octet was written when he was 16 and has a maturity and mastery that I don't think was emulated let alone surpassed by any other composer of that age (or younger). Schubert's Erlkönig and Gretchen am Spinrade were written at 17 (and of course, unlike Mendelssohn, he went on to write even better pieces).

Beethoven wrote nothing of comparable quality until perhaps the slow movement of Opus 10 no.3 (composed at the age of 28), and the world would not be a worse place if everything he wrote before he was 25 disappeared... (although open counter arguments!)

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Originally Posted by Hatchestron


In terms of compositional mastery, then Mendelssohn surely is the winner. The Octet was written when he was 16 and has a maturity and mastery that I don't think was emulated let alone surpassed by any other composer of that age (or younger). Schubert's Erlkönig and Gretchen am Spinrade were written at 17 (and of course, unlike Mendelssohn, he went on to write even better pieces).


Just listen to Alma Deutscher - even younger.


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Mendelssohn was composing music of astonishing sophistication as a teenager, far beyond Mozart at the same age. I can't speak to Saint-Saens.


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Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Just listen to Alma Deutscher - even younger.

Not only was her Cinderella a full length opera, which she started when she was 7 years old and had its world premiere when she was 10, but she wrote the libretto by herself in what is a second language to her (German - despite her last name, she is English). In the Vienna premiere, conducted by Zubin Mehta, she also played violin and piano solos.



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Originally Posted by AaronSF
Mendelssohn was composing music of astonishing sophistication as a teenager, far beyond Mozart at the same age.

Better than Mozart's little G minor at age 17?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lC1lRz5Z_s

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Originally Posted by JoelW
Originally Posted by AaronSF
Mendelssohn was composing music of astonishing sophistication as a teenager, far beyond Mozart at the same age.

Better than Mozart's little G minor at age 17?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lC1lRz5Z_s


Yes... At the same age he had already written the aforementioned octet and the overture to a midsummer's night dream

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYUs2AwvQdY

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Originally Posted by Hatchestron
From what perspective? Maybe Sans Saens was the most remarkable as a keyboard player. But Mendelssohn at 16 wrote a work (the Octet) which Saints Saens never came close to equaling (and in truth, nor did Mendelssohn), Mozart excelled in a wider range of musical skills as a child and assimilated more styles which combined with a much greater originality led to a vastly superior adult career as a composer.

Sorry - but I don't share the opinion that Mendelsson was a "one hit wonder" (two, if you count the Overture to Midsummer's Night Dream). Yes, the Octet is an amazing accomplishment for a 16 year old, but many of Mendelssohn's later achievements, including the Variations Serieuses, Piano Trio Opus 49, Violin Concerto, and Symphonies No. 3 and 4 have become staples of the classical repertoire - and rightfully so. I agree, however, that Mozart was the greatest composer of the three. smile


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