My 'star hour': meeting Alma Deutscher

'In my nearly eighty years I never met a gifted person like Alma and I most likely never will.'

Some of you readers, when you were in your teens in the late fifties of the last century, may remember a sensational book by the Austrian novelist Stefan Zweig, Sternstunden der Menschheit, Star Hours of Humankind, or Decisive Moments of History.

Of those fourteen moments I will remind myself of Haendel’s epiphany writing the “Messiah” in three weeks after a near fatal illness and half a century later the French engineer/ captain Rouget de Lisle in the flash of a night writing what became known as the  “Marsellaise”, now the French National Anthem. These individuals were the conveyors of lighting moments which influenced massive shifts in human  focus and behaviour.

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HC (left) hugging Deutscher (right)
Source: Courtesy of HC Behm

With Alma Deutscher this moment has happened for me when I heard her perform her own  piano concerto with the Vancouver Symphony at the Orpheum on  Saturday, February 29!!!, 2020.

Alma, as many of you may be aware, began playing piano at 2, violin at 3 and composing at 4. She has written a violin concerto with orchestra at  9, at 10 she wrote her first full length opera “Cinderella” and at 12 she premiered her first piano concerto.

Her compositions lean toward the music by Schubert, Chopin and Mendelssohn.

“Surrounded by cacophony I want to create a beautiful sound world”, paraphrasing her words. After her VSO performance I had a chance to meet her and her father, Guy Deutscher. I was touched by her radiance and modesty and the eloquence of her replies to me. She is 15 now, lives in Vienna, when she does not tour the World and speaks at least three languages, including Hebrew.

Alma does not want to be compared to Mozart, who died nearly 230 years ago,, but her musical genius certainly  parallels his.

In my nearly eighty years I never met a gifted person like Alma and I most likely never will. 

Those few minutes have become a “star hour” for me. 

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