The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: Does the adult desire to have child prodigies hurt the children? What about the very young composer whose music got played by the New York Philharmonic?

June 9, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

Child prodigies intrigue, astound and fascinate us, even as they sometimes intimidate us or confuse us.

We wonder what the art world would be without them. And we wonder how they will mature and what they will become.

Most historians seem to agree that the three biggest prodigies in classical music were Mozart, Mendelssohn and Saint-Saens. Beethoven was no prodigy, but his drunken father abused him physically while trying to make him another Mozart who earned big money and fame as a wunderkind.

To be sure, there are some child prodigies who went on to accomplish major and important things. But The Ear bets there were many, many others who didn’t pan out and who were ruined by the adult or parental desire to have talented and gifted children.

Recently, a work by a young – very young – composer got performed by the New York Philharmonic. His name is Milo Poniewozik, a 10-year-old who is a fifth-grader, and his work was performed as part of the orchestra’s Very Young Composers program.

Here is a story with a link to the performance and a story about it:

Be sure to check out the many comments from readers and listeners.

Is this just an exploitative gimmick to attract young people to classical music by educational outreach programs? (Some local groups, including the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras, have also performed works by young members and young composers.)

What do you think of the phenomenon of such a young composer?

Is he a flash in the pan?

Or is he the real deal, a promising and talented composer?

Is such public exposure helpful or harmful to the young boy?

The Ears wants to hear.

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