January 18, 2005


Prodigy, 12, Compared To Mozart (CBS, Nov. 28, 2004)

There is a composer studying at New York’s renowned Juilliard School who some say is the greatest talent to come along in 200 years. He’s written five full-length symphonies, and he’s only 12 years old.

His name is Jay Greenberg, although he likes the nickname "Bluejay" because, he says, blue jays are small and make a lot of noise.

Greenberg says music just fills his head and he has to write it down to get it out. What’s going on in Bluejay’s head? Correspondent Scott Pelley spoke with him.

Jay wrote a piece, "The Storm," in just a few hours. It was commissioned by the New Haven Symphony in Connecticut.

When the last note sailed into the night, Jay navigated an unfamiliar stage, and then took a bow.

"We are talking about a prodigy of the level of the greatest prodigies in history when it comes to composition," says Sam Zyman, a composer. "I am talking about the likes of Mozart, and Mendelssohn, and Saint-Sans." [...]

"This is an absolute fact. This is objective. This is not a subjective opinion," says Zyman. "Jay could be sitting here, and he could be composing right now. He could finish a piano sonata before our eyes in probably 25 minutes. And it would be a great piece."

How is it possible? Jay told Pelley he doesn’t know where the music comes from, but it comes fully written -- playing like an orchestra in his head.

"It's as if the unconscious mind is giving orders at the speed of light," says Jay. "You know, I mean, so I just hear it as if it were a smooth performance of a work that is already written, when it isn’t."

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 18, 2005 1:05 PM

The poor kid. Like most prodigies, the music will probably stop within 10 years, and then what'll he do?

Posted by: Chris Durnell at January 18, 2005 5:15 PM

Has anybody heard it? Is it any good?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at January 18, 2005 6:04 PM

A few years ago I had the misfortune to attend a NY Philharmonic concert conducted by Seiji Ozawa. One of the pieces had been written by a 21 year old composer, who was being hailed as a prodigy by Ozawa apparently, and who was as queer as the proverbial three dollar bill.

The piece sounded like the old Alka Seltzer jingle 'Plop Plop Fizz Fizz Oh What A Relief It Is' played very slowly.

Posted by: Bart at January 21, 2005 3:34 PM