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Our Top 5 Prodigies

Posted on 13 May 2015 by Leo Messias

In Mostly Mendelssohn, 29-year old American violin virtuoso Stefan Jackiw joins the ACO for a dazzling program powered by musical prodigies.

Mendelssohn probably made his first public concert appearance at age 9, when he participated in a chamber music concert accompanying a horn duo. He was also a prolific composer from an early age. As an adolescent, his works were often performed at home with a private orchestra for the associates of his wealthy parents amongst the intellectual elite of Berlin. Between the ages of 12 and 14, Mendelssohn wrote 12 string symphonies for such concerts.

In preparation for Stefan Jackiw’s concert with the ACO, we’ve explored 5 of our top prodigies of all time. Let us know in the comments box below if you have any prodigies that you feel were wrongfully left out of the list!

Michael Jackson (1958-2009)

The King of Pop debuted on the professional music scene at the age of 6 as a member of the Jackson 5 along with his elder brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon. Rolling Stone magazine later described the young Michael as having “overwhelming musical gifts” writing that he “quickly emerged as the main draw and lead singer” of the group. He would go on to sell 450 million records worldwide and become the most awarded recording artist in the history of popular music.

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)


Pablo Picasso is arguably the most well-known painter of the 20th century. His painting Women of Algiers (Version 0) recently broke the record for most expensive artwork sold at auction after reaching $179m at Christie’s in New York. The Spanish was prolific throughout his career, and his first painting, The Picador, was made when he was only 8 years old.

Shirley Temple (1928-2014)

Shirley Temple began her film career in 1932 at the age of 3, and was most famous as Hollywood’s number one box-office star from 1935 to 1938. When she was seven years old, she received a special Academy Award.

Gary Kasparov (1963-)


Russian Gary Kasparov is considered by many as the greatest chess player of all time. He ranked in the top 15 players in the world at age 16. He became the youngest ever undisputed World Chess Champion in 1985 at age 22 by defeating then-champion Anatoly Karpov. He held the official world title until 1993. In 1997 he became the first world champion to lose a match to a computer under standard time controls, when he lost to the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue in a highly publicized match.

Jet Li (1963-)

The Chinese-born film star, producer and martial artist won several gold medals in wushu at the All China Games at the age of 12. After retiring from wushu at age 19, he went on to win great acclaim as an actor making his debut with the film Shaolin Temple. And the rest, as they say, is history.

14-25 May

American violin virtuoso Stefan Jackiw takes on Mendelssohn’s famous E minor violin concerto in an intimate arrangement for string orchestra.

MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E minor
MENDELSSOHN String Symphony No. 9 in C major
BOTTESINI Gran Duo for Double Bass and Violin
WOLF Italian Serenade