© 2022 South Carolina Public Radio
Radio Website Header-Waves 6 3.0.jpg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Mendelssohn, child prodigy

A Minute with Miles
Mary Noble Ours
/
SC Public Radio

Musical child prodigies have always fascinated the public. Far more rare than the child prodigy performer, though, is the child prodigy composer. The first name that comes to many people’s minds when they think of child composers is Mozart, and it’s true that Mozart started writing music at the age of four or five. But of all Mozart’s great pieces, very few were written before his twentieth birthday. Felix Mendelssohn, on the other hand, composed works when he was fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen that are still considered masterpieces, and that far surpass anything Mozart wrote when he was a teenager. 

Mendelssohn was just sixteen, for example, when he wrote his famous Octet for strings, and seventeen when he wrote the Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s true that adolescents feel things very deeply and intensely, but it remains astonishing that a teenage boy could start with a blank sheet of paper and write music that will stir the souls of men and women for as long as music is played.

A Minute with Miles is a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation. 

Stay Connected
Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.