You’ve seen those kids on TV playing Beethoven perfectly when they are like 4 years old? Or doing calculus at 6? They are often called “child prodigies”. I always wonder what happens to these kids when they grow up. The implication when they are shown performing amazing feats as children is to just imagine what miracles they will whip out in their 30’s or 50’s.
Well that almost never seems to come true. Take Dika Newlin, who just passed away recently. She was a musical prodigy as a child…
At age 11, Newlin composed a symphonic work, “Cradle Song,” which was performed by the Cincinnati Symphony. A few years later, in 1941, the work was performed in New York with another prodigy, 11-year-old Lorin Maazel, at the NBC Summer Symphony podium.
Newlin was among the last surviving pupils of Arnold Schoenberg. Her 1980 book Schoenberg Remembered: Diaries and Recollections 1938-76, traces her experiences studying with the composer.
A native of Portland, Oregon, Newlin graduated from the University of Michigan at 16 and earned a doctorate from Columbia University at 22.
And while she was no slouch in her later life…
Newlin composed three operas, a symphony, a piano concerto and chamber works, and she began exploring popular music in the mid-’80s.
I doubt one could say she changed the world in ways you might have expected when first hearing her play as a child.
Inspired by her college students, she sang and played keyboards in a band called Apocowlypso. More recently [in her 70’s] she performed as a flame-haired punk rocker and performance artist, singing works such as “Murder Kitty,” composed solely of meows.
Dika Newlin died recently at age 82. But one thing can be said for certain, she enjoyed her life. Every minute of it from I can tell, and maybe that’s where her real genius lies.