© Patrick Hürlimann
Alma Deutscher, born 2005, is a composer, violinist and pianist. She started playing the piano when she was two years old and the violin when she was three. Soon afterwards she started improvising simple melodies on the piano. At six, she completed her first piano sonata, and at 7 a short opera, The Sweeper of Dreams. There followed various compositions for violin, piano, and chamber ensembles. Aged 9, Alma wrote a concerto for violin and orchestra, which she premiered in Spain in 2014. Aged 12, she completed her first piano concerto, which she premiered in Austria in 2017 to the jubilation of the public and the press. Between the ages of 8-12, she composed a full-length opera, Cinderella. The opera has been performed in Israel, Austria, and the US. A children’s version of the opera was staged by the Vienna State Opera in 2018 and revived in October 2019. The full version of the opera was has been released on DVD with Sony Classical. Her first piano solo album, From My Book of Melodies, was released by Sony Classical in 2019 and is published by G. Schirmer.
Conductor Zubin Mehta described Alma Deutscher as “one of the greatest musical talents today.” Conductor Sir Simon Rattle told the BBC: “Alma is a force of nature. I don’t know that I’ve come across anyone of that age with quite such an astonishing range of gifts. I haven’t really seen anything like it.” Composer Jörg Widmann said he had never met a talent like hers before. And violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter declared it was "absolutely extraordinary what this young girl has managed to achieve."
In December 2019, Alma made her debut in the sold out Carnegie Hall in New York, to repeated standing ovations. The concert was dedicated to her own compositions.
As a soloist playing her own compositions, she has appeared in prestigious festivals such as the Lucerne Festival, Aix-en-Provence Festival, and Beijing Music Festival. She has appeared as soloist playing her own compositions with orchestras such as the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Mozarteum Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra.
Alma has featured prominently in the international press, from major features and interviews in the most prominent newspapers around the world, from the New York Times, through most major newspapers in Europe, to the China Daily. She has also appeared in numerous television programs across the world. In 2017 she was the subject of an hour long BBC Documentary and a CBS 60 Minutes documentary.
Alma Deutscher plays on a violin made in 1683 by Antonio Stradivari (the Bucher Stradivarius), and on a violin made by Peter Greiner in 2015. The Bucher Stradivarius is kindly loaned to her by a generous patron. The loan is administered by the Tarisio Trust.
“Alma Deutscher is a stick of dynamite. She made her appearance, and the fourth wall shattered.“
Le Figaro, April 2018
“These are supple, powerful, sumptuous tones, with which this child creates musical wonders“
Kronen Zeitung, July 2017
“One of the greatest musical talents today.“
Conductor Zubin Mehta about Alma Deutscher, Nov. 2016
“The poetry of Franz Schubert, the melancholy of Chopin, the grace, lightness and brilliance of Mozart - all this can be found in Deutscher's piano treasures. In her album, we find outstanding and brilliantly interpreted compositions, which have depth and are a welcome counterpoint to the currently ubiquitous neo-classical gobbledygook.“ (Saarland Radio, Nov. 2019)
“A twelve-year-old British girl has written an opera of astounding wit, craft, and musical beauty… Deutscher has an effervescent sense of musical humor. The resulting complications from the switched medical prescription are musically and dramatically hilarious… The sheer amount of orchestral and vocal invention is stunning. Deutscher’s most impressive accomplishment is her mastery of the classical tradition’s rich resources for expressing dramatic conflict…. A smart producer would mount Cinderella on Broadway. In addition to its comedic force, its score puts recent musicals to shame, whether from the Disney franchise or Andrew Lloyd Webber.“
The New Criterion, Heather Mac Donald, review of Cinderella, May 2018
“A young talent’s sensational burst to prominence, and a buoyant production of the highest professional standard combined to make this the once-in-a-lifetime opera-going event that had audiences standing and cheering.“
Opera Today, review of Cinderella, December 2017
“What this composer is capable of is indeed miraculous“ De Volkskrant, January 2020
“It is absolutely extraordinary what this young girl has managed to achieve on the violin, the piano, and in her compositions. Her musical sensitivity and her powers of expression already at this age underline her exceptional talent.“ Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter about Alma Deutscher
“She may be one of the most gifted musical talents of her generation, lauded by Zubin Mehta and Simon Rattle, but she is also a teenager testing the bounds of her freedom and pushing back against expectations. In Ms. Deutscher’s case, that means defying her critics over her insistence that “music should be beautiful.“
New York Times, Melissa Eddy, June 2019
“A night of increasing musical wonder. Deutscher’s most recent works were marvels of exuberance and urbane sophistication…. The “Siren Sounds” Waltz releases gravity-defying waves of sound from the orchestra, deploying cymbal and snare, tuba and trumpet, to achieve musical effervescence. Another stunning work is the song “I think of you”, which she performed at Carnegie in piano transcription…-suave, cool, characterized by surprising modulations and subtle chromatic embellishments.“ (Review of Alma's Carnegie Debut, Heather Mac Donald, The New Criterion Feb. 2020)
“The force of nature of child star of music. Never before has the orchestra caused so much sensation as yesterday. It was the force of nature of a child star of music that took possession of Alma from the age of two, so that since then she has been playing piano and violin and composing with unerring sense in her dreamland. The admiration for the multi-talent with an already remarkable list of works stretches from Austria to abroad. Only last year Vienna was amazed by her opera, Villach by the violin concerto and a piano concerto, and now it’s Linz’s turn to be astonished by Alma Deutscher’s mastery of counterpoint and harmony. The musical from is perfectly adhered to, the melodies bubble out endlessly, a fugue polished off effortlessly, and everything is in the tone colours of a classical-romantic style, which lets not only the compositional ability shine, but also the instruments. She also has a sense of humour, because as an encore she asked for notes from the audience, over which she improvised on the piano. And suddenly a great piece came into being, which was thanked with standing ovations.“
Volksblatt, Georgina Szeless, February 2018
“Alma Deutscher, the girl who has revolutionized concert music. Alma Deutscher is now fourteen years old. Her opera Cinderella is a flood of wonderful and radiant melodies, almost in excess. But her concerts are amazing works. The concerto for piano and orchestra, for example, written between the ages of ten and twelve, is a work of enormous power. Its language oscillates between a certain classicism and a passionate romanticism reminiscent of Mendelssohn. The freshness of her melodic invention, the perfect control of romantic harmony and above all the mastery of the form, the creativity, take your breath away. This work, as well as the violin concerto composed at the age of nine, are works full of beauty. It is romanticism again. It is the passion for the beauty in the melody. “I would like people to stop telling me how music should or should not be written in the 21st century,” said Alma Deutscher. And also: “If the world is really so ugly, why make it even uglier with ugly music?“
ABC CULTURAL, Andrés Ibáñez, June 2019
“Alma really is a force of nature. I don’t know that I’ve come across anyone of that age with quite such an astonishing range of gifts. It’s natural for her, it’s play, and I think it was play for certain brilliant young composers, like Mozart, like Korngold. These are very unusual people who have this. There is a sense of phrasing which many people two or three or four times her age would be lucky to have. There is a sense of what the harmony does that seems to be completely inborn to her. This is not something you can teach. And I haven’t really seen anything like it.“
Conductor Sir Simon Rattle on BBC Documentary
“The world turns in a circle, but always sprouts new, beautiful flowers, if one only lets them sprout. And just in case a natural skepticism creeps in about whether there is anything amiss – Alma Deutscher’s music, which she presents on the piano with full commitment and with palpable pleasure, is full of extraordinarily original ideas and genuine surprises, so that any suspicion that a good arranger could have helped out is immediately extinguished. Skillful contemporaries, who make a living by writing in this idiom, usually lack such imagination, an imagination that is wedded to a manifestly secure sense of harmonic and formal balance. Even just the transition from the cadenza to the coda of the first movement reveals the composer’s originality. And how, just before the final chord [of the first movement], she charmingly dissolves the harmonic knot which had been tied with a harmonic Coup in the first bars of the concerto – that mesmerizes. What dear god may still be planning with this girl?“
Die Presse, Dr. Wilhelm Sinkovicz, April 2018
“In a time of doubt and suspicion, hate and war-mongering, to find a voice as original and as uplifting as Alma Deutscher’s, is more than a gift – it is hope. And the little child will lead them? Indeed. Alma’s original rendition of the classic fairy tale in music and song, is a chord to resound in our lives day after day. The variations in the story are more than mere variants: they are little stars themselves: a girl who has music that leaps into her head; a prince who doesn’t want political power but poetry; a group of people, alien and jealous and angry with each other, brought together by those very things. The stuff of dreams? Not in San Jose during this premiere week of Deutscher’s four-act “Cinderella.” It reminds, remands, renews joy in the theater, in music, in creativity, which we take out the door of the California Theater into the street, into the cars and buses, into our homes… . It makes for more than just a lively and audience-friendly experience: we are actually transported, from the conventional tale into a milieu in which we do care how things work out… The music itself lifts us from the start, the expressive and winding strings, the haunting clarinet capturing the darkness and isolation of the young “beggar girl” in its melancholy, the resonance of the brass and basses when they support it… – music to fill heart and soul.“
Opera Wire, review of Cinderella, December 2017
“These 75 minutes of opera sound really fantastic… In concentrated form, Deutscher hosts a firework of her catchiest ear-worms, and the twelve-year-old is a highly gifted melodist. Her cantilenas… convey bottomless grief or overflowing yearning. Supported by accomplished orchestral writing, this Cinderella shines through an effective sequence of arias, duets, ensembles and speech scenes. To sum up, the State Opera has done well to secure this Cinderella, because it is not just an attraction for the Wunderkind-arena, but a good opera in itself.“
Wiener Zeitung, Christoph Irrgeher, Review of Cinderella for Children at the Vienna State Opera, January 2018
“Flying fingers, grand music. Jubilation at the opening concert of the Carinthian Summer. She has everything required from a Wunderkind, and even a little bit more: Alma Deutscher, who at 12 is not just a double instrumental virtuoso, but composes in the style of the great masters. And above that, she wins in a moment the hearts of the public with her grace and charm. The opening concert of the Carinthian Summer turned into a triumph of creativity. Alma wants to write ‘beautiful music’ for people, as she often declares herself, and beautiful music was indeed to be heard. These are supple, powerful, sumptuous tones, with which this (still) child creates musical wonders, with her evident and sometimes mischievous lightness of being. Alma thanked the audience for the great applause with an improvisation on blindly drawn notes.“
Kronen Zeitung, Andrea Hein, July 2017
“Perhaps opera, which has so often been pronounced dead, can now finally gain a new life force, when it returns to melody. The brilliant child Alma could have a contribution to that.“
Der Standard, Robert Schediwy, February 2017.
“That the strait-laced among the audience might find her classic-romantic style far too ‘retro’, doesn’t bother her in the least. She just composes what she likes: beautiful melodies, in stylistically confident harmonisations… She doesn’t want to write dissonances, just because it might be considered chic. And when one experiences her in Lucerne, one has to say that she is right. Why should she not use the talent that she has?“
Tages Anzeiger, Susanne Kübler, Review of Alma’s debut at the Lucerne Festival, August 2018
“What is fascinating about Alma Deutscher is that she really can do it all. Her composition is fully-fledged, but in a frame she has set herself: it has to be “beautiful”, and that means tonal. She creates arias that challenge the singers, and an instrumentation that makes you sit up and listen again and again.“
Volksblatt, Renate Wagner, January 2018
“The opera of the eleven-year-old British composer Alma Deutscher sparkles with original ideas. Vienna – This evening at Casino Baumgarten, Alma Deutscher is almost everywhere. She accompanies Cinderella from the piano, suddenly stands on the stage next to the main character, and plays on the violin delicate second voice to the fairy tale character. Then Alma Deutscher also sings in one scene and during the break gives autograms quite cheerfully. Amazingly relaxed is this amazing girl who wrote this amazingly good opera. Stylistically Cinderella moves carefree between Viennese Classic and earlier Romantic. From this inventory of music history, however, emerge remarkable inspirations, which understand the psychological corset of the characters. Here, someone with a great deal of empathy moves into the characters. And she also understands how to build scenes, keep them in tension, and orchestrate dense atmospheres. Alma Deutscher proves talent for the humorous as well as the melancholy.“
Der Standard, Ljubisa Tosic, December 2016
“Amazing sounds of a miracle child. Composer and soloist Alma Deutscher (12) caused jubilation at the opening of the Carinthian Summer Festival. Alma Deutscher thrilled with enormous virtuosity and self-assured maturity. She is only twelve years old. Zubin Mehta even described her as one of the greatest musical talents. Now one could experience her as a composer and as a soloist at the opening concert of the Carinthian Summer in the sold-out Congress Center Villach. Her music is exquisitely crafted. Her enormous virtuosity and self-assured maturity surprised. And because the jubilation of the audience did not end, Alma gave a pianistic encore – and what an encore! She let different members of the audience draw notes from a little bag. And she began to improvise over these four tones, and the sparks were flying.“
Kleine Zeitung, Helmut Christian, July 2017.