If you ask people who are interested in classical music whether they have heard of Alma Deutscher yet, a large number will say yes. Alma is a 13-year-old musician with a lot of publicity who featured on several TV programs, has her own youTube channel with well over 7 million views and is constantly performing around the world. She is an outstanding violinist and pianist, but what makes her unique are her compositions.
Alma has composed operas, concertos, chamber music and solo pieces that have been performed by professional musicians in several countries. Her opera Cinderella has a clever musical twist as described Wikipedia:
“Music is a central part of the plot. It is set in an opera production company run by the Evil Stepmother. The two step-sister stock characters are portrayed as talentless divas. Although Cinderella is a natural composer, with "beautiful melodies springing into her head", she is not allowed to perform. The prince is a poet, and Cinderella chances upon a captivating love poem, which unbeknownst to her was written by the prince. She is inspired by the poem and sets it to her own music. Her melody is then stolen by her step-sisters and sung at a singing competition during the ball; however, finally Cinderella sings her melody to the prince, unaware that he wrote words to it. Similarly, the prince is unaware that the singer composed the enchanting music to which he composed his lyrics.
After Cinderella flees from the ball at midnight, the prince searches for Cinderella not using a glass slipper, as in the traditional fairytale, but using a melody. Eventually, the pair is united: "In the end, they find each other like lyrics find melody". Deutscher explained: "I didn't want Cinderella just to be pretty. I wanted her to have her own mind and her own spirit. And to be a little bit like me. So I decided that she would be a composer."
I’ve watched interviews with Alma and noticed that quite a few of them include an improvisation game. The interviewer will pull out note names from a hat and hand them over to Alma, who will think it over and then compose a piece on the spot. She does this so naturally and easily it looks as though the music comes to her totally effortlessly.
Then I came across a video featuring a Skype lesson of Alma with her improvisation and composition teacher Tobias Cramm. In the video they are having a musical conversation: Tobias Cramm plays a phrase and Alma plays the musical answer - it is all done in the style of the 18th century. The video gives a glimpse of the systematic hard work that prepares the ground for the music to flourish upon.
I was very excited when Tobias agreed to give pianoways an interview where he will explain what this system is and how he works with Alma Deutscher. It will be published shortly.
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