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‘Out of 10 violin prodigies, one will attempt suicide, two become alcoholics’

October 22, 2015 by norman lebrecht

4 comments.


From a new study of 100 child violinists by Izabela Wagner: ‘For every ten students, one will attempt suicide, one will become mentally ill, two will become alcoholics, two will slam doors and jettison the violin out the window, three will work as violinists, and perhaps one will become a soloist.’

Read the full article here.

Michael Rabin - portrait with violin. American violinist, 2  May  1936 –  19 January 1972.


Comments (4)

  1. Mark Mortimer says:

    Interesting statistics.

    Look at the tragic case of Josef Hassid- probably the greatest violinist of the 20th Century who never was.

    His performance of the hackneyed Massenet Meditation with Gerald Moore at the piano- is one of the greatest I’ve ever heard. Its as if God is speaking through Hassid’s violin- incredibly moving and sublime.

    1. Robert Hairgrove says:

      “Its as if God is speaking through Hassid’s violin- incredibly moving and sublime.”

      Yes, I like that interpretation very much, too. But listen to Michael Rabin in the same piece, playing the original version (with orchestra). You’ll think you died and went to heaven, and God is whispering in your ear(s)! He plays it much slower, and it is really more of a meditation.

      Alas, another genius who died much too early!

      1. Milka says:

        Of the trained monkeys the question is with all that God speaking and whispering, which version does God like best . I’d be a little wary of the dying and heaven bit being a
        one time event .

  2. Will Roseliep says:

    One summer I worked at a music camp that catered especially to “prodigies” and highly-advanced youngsters. They ran from 6 or 7 years old through high school. There was a bit of a “Toddlers and Tiaras” vibe to it — parents wanted so badly for their kid to become The Next Big Thing. They pushed and pushed, then sent them off to this camp for that extra edge. Some seemed well-adjusted to me (I’m certainly not a behavioral psychologist) while others were clearly headed for trouble. So much of it has to do with the parents. If a prodigious talent knows s/he has the backing of parents and family — and they know that playing an instrument is their choice, and are allowed to develop their relationship with it — many crises can be averted. If classical music is presented as the SOLE option, to the exclusion of social activities, sports, and general childhood fun & excitement, problems will surely develop. Personally, I think we fetishize young talent in an extremely unhealthy way. –Will Roseliep, http://www.classicaldarkarts.com


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