Child Composers and Their Works: A Historical Survey by Barry Cooper

By Barry Cooper

This booklet is the 1st survey of composers born ahead of 1900 who wrote great musical works earlier than age sixteen. The e-book presents a common review of the topic to the current day, arguing that those works have usually been marginalized, denigrated, or missed with out justification, and deciding upon attainable purposes for this. it is usually an annotated list of good over a hundred outstanding baby composers, proposing a important and convenient reference of those creators and their works ahead of age sixteen.

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13 Whether it was or not, the fact remains that if even one critic (whose view, incidentally, was endorsed by the great singer Maria Malibran)14 had such a high opinion of the work, this is strong evidence that it deserves serious attention. 15 The total neglect of these operas in such a major reference tool is hard to account for, except as a symptom of how extensively the very existence of some children’s compositions has been suppressed in recent times. In all such cases it is tacitly assumed that, because the works were composed at an early age, they cannot be worthy of attention and can be treated as nonexistent.

P. E. Bach, Verdi, Brahms, and Dvorˇák. Saint-Saëns is another composer who is reported to have destroyed many of his childhood works, although, if he did so, he does not seem to have been very systematic; more than fifty still survive. Early works by Grieg and Schoenberg are among those that have had a lucky escape after their composers lost interest in them. Composers, however, are arguably not always the best judges of their early works. As their tastes and ambitions alter, they may come to regard these works as outdated or insufficiently sophisticated; or they may simply wish to turn their backs on the means by which they reached their current position, perhaps afraid that such works might lessen their image and reputation in the eyes of the public.

Willis Grant (London: Butterworth, 1963), 108, 115. The paper was originally presented in April 1962. 16. The one exception—Israel Silberman, “Teaching Composition via Schenker’s Theory,” Journal of Research in Music Education 12 (1964): 295–303—merely reinforces the attitude that composition is an esoteric art, for it states on the first page that the article will be understood only by those with “thorough training in harmony and composition” and preferably “considerable experience with Schenker” too.

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