Costumes of Boy Musical Prodigies: Individuals E-L

Figure 1.--Italian violinist and conducting prodigy Pierinois Gamba is seen here in 1950. He would have been about 13 years old. He normally wore short pants suits even as an older teenager, but often did not wear ties.

There are many famous child music prodigies. The most famous is certainly Mozart in the 18th Century, but there have been many others in the 19th and 20th Century. The clothing they wore for their performances were often examples of contemporary formal boys' clothing. Often as they began to grow up their parents liked to kee dressing them in juvenile clothes to emphasize that they were childhood prodigies. I've just begun this page, but would be interested in any comments or contributions by HBC viewers.


Eikelboom, Teun: (The Netherlands, ca 1940- ): Teun performed with his twin sister Sjaantje Eikelboom as "Les Deux Jeateux". They played popular tunes as well as classical music. As a boy he commonly performed costumed in short pants, white kneesocks, and strap shoes. I'm not sure what he wore for everyday clothes. In the late 1950s they performed several times with rock star Bill Haley in Europe and they were one of the few dutch artists that released a record (Parla d'amore) in the United States. Later the boy became famous in the Netherlands as a music conductor and writer of music under the theatricak name Tonny Eyk.


Ferreros, Willy: (France?, 1907?- ): Willy Ferreros, at age 4 1/2 years masterfully directed the orchestra of the Madness-Shepherdesses, in Paris, then that of the Casino of Lyon. One press report indicated, "It is a very small catch who wears the black dress already [?gaillardement], satin breeches, white waistcoat, and polished shoes. The rod in hand, he directs with a clearness, a safety, a precision incomparable, an orchestra of 80 musicians, attentive to the least detail, concerned with the nuances, scrupulous observer of the rate/rhythm ...." [Comoedia, February 18, 1911] another reviewer notes that he "... excels in the direction of the Symphonies of Haydn and the "March of Tannhauser" and the "Dance of Anitra" by Grieg." [L'Intransigeant, June 22, 1911.]


Gamba, Pierino: (Italy, 1938- ) HBC knows relatively little about Pierino Gamba at this time. He was born in Rome during 1937. I have no information at this time on his childhood on early musical training. He was a well-known child prodigy conducting symphony orchestras in the late 1940s and early 50s. Hecfirst directedcin Rome at age 8 years. He normally appeared as a boy in short pants suits with ankle socks for his appearnces. I do not know what he normally wore at home. As a youth in the mid-1950s he was still wearing short opants--inspite of being an older teenager. He appeared with noted musscians like Yehudi Menuhin, a former child prodigy himself. Pierino did many international performances in the post-War era, such as London's Earls Court in 1949. He made several recordings with the London Symphonic Orchestra. He went on to an ilustrious addult career as a symphonic director with performances all over Europe, such as the Orquesta Sinfónica del SODRE, peforming la ópera "Desfile de Primavera", momianted for an Oscar de la Academia, in a concert held at the Hipódromo de Maroñas in February 1984.

Goldstein, Boris (USSR, 1922?- ): Boris was one of the most aclaimed violin prodigies of the 1930s. I noted that in a performance in 1937 at about age 15 he was wearing a sailor suit. Boris never went on to make an career adult carrer. Perhaps it was the War which intervened in 1941 when the NAZIs invaded the Soviet Union. Perhaps it was his Jewish ancestry which was a duisadvantage in the Soviet Union.

Figure 2.--Glen Gould also at age 10 wearing a white jacket with dark short pants and kneesocks for a recital.
Gould, Glen (Canada, 1932-82) The brilliant Canadian piano prodigy was a musical genius whose 1955 recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations won him world fame. His parents severely restricted his childhood performances, wanting his to "grow up normal." As a result, his childood performanes were in relaity very limited, only one or two each year. Childhood friend and noted Canadian writer, Robert Fulford wrote: Florence and Bert Gould were determined that their son should have "a normal childhood" -- as if anything in the life of a genius could ever be normal. In their household the phrase "child prodigy" was spoken as a dark curse, if at all." His childhood in reality was not a happy one. Other boys teased him for being a "sissy", but most other children tolerated his extrincices with wary suspicion. He had few close childhood friends. His mother apparently preferred short pants suits and kneesocks. Pictures of him at 10 years of age confirm he was still wearing short pants suit in 1942.

Goluboff, Grisha (U.S., 1919-2002): Grisha Goluboff was a famous boy violinist during the 1930s. His parents were Russian Jewish imigrants. He was California, but after his career began spent time in New York as well. For Grisha's upcoming 5th birthday, his father asked him what he wanted for a gift. What Grisha asked for was a violin. His father was able to locate the smallest size violin for him and found a teacher who taught Grisha all he (the teacher) knew in about 1 year. He was soon performing even the most complicated scores to amazed audiences. His manager was Isidore Nobel of New York/San Francisco. A movie newsreel on May 24, 1933 movie newsreel carried a feature about him having to return an instrument loaned to him during a tour of Germany. He was taught by or performed with many legendary performers. He had a wonderfully nuanced sound.


Hassed, Josef (Poland, 1924?-50 ): I have also seen his name spelled Joseph Hassid. His music has been descrived as incadessent. I know little about him other than his life ended tragically. After a very limited number of appearnces in Loodon, he was committed ro a psychiatric asylum. He died undergoing a lobotomy in 1950 at age 26.

Heifetz, Jascha (Russia/United States, 1901-87): Jascha was born in Lithuania, then part of the Russian Empire during 1901. He once provided an autobiogrphy. "I played the violin at 3 and gave my first concert at 7. I have been playing ever since." that included a career spanning ix decades. He was a star student at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. The Russian Revolution began in St. Petersburg while Jacha was a 16 year old student. He emigrated to America, not an easy undertaking in 1917. That same year he played his first American concert in Carnegie Hall. The audience was astonished with his mastery of the violin. He became an American citizen in 1925. He was notable for his perfect pitch and flawless technique.

Hofman, Josef (Casimir) (Poland, 1876- ) Josef was a Polish child piano child prodigy. He was born in Poland during 1876 and made a tour through the United States. "I believe in the education of music. It is a great, a mighty power," said Josef Hofmann, perhaps the most outstanding pianist of the twentieth century and for 13 years the director of the prestigious Curtis Institute. Hofmann had strong ties to the Aiken area. Born near Crakow, Poland in 1876, he became a professional pianist at the early age of nine, impressing Franz Liszt, Camille Saint-Saens, and Anton Rubinstein. His international concert career brought him, in 1904, to Aiken for a recital at Joye Cottage, the winter home of financier William C Whitney and the subject of a 1996 Smith and Naifeh book entitled On a Street Called Easy, In a Cottage Called Joye. It was at this event that he met Marie Eustis, the woman who was to become his wife.

Figure 3.--As a young boy Mieczyslaw Horszowski performed in a dress-like tunic.
Horszowski, Mieczyslaw (Poland, 1892- ) Mieczyslaw played before the Emperor Franz-Joseph as a boy in Vienna. He proceded to achieve the longest international career in the history of western classical music. By the age of 6 years he had performed recitals in eight European capitals. The 7-year old "Miecio" came from Poland to take piano lessons in Vienna with Tehodor Leschetizky, the teacher of Paderewski and Schnabel. He recalls,"He made me play to the whole class. They jad fitted a special device to the piano, so that my feet could reach the pedals. He was an exacting man and he expected from me the same stanfard as from one of his advanced pupils. ... Sometime later Leschetizky made me stand on a table and play the violin to them, too. I realized that I was playing out of tune, but when I looked anxiously at Leschetizky's face, he was smiling. You see, he knew I was destined to be a pianist!" I have few images of Miecio, but one shows him in a light-colored dress or tunic outfit with a lace collar. He wears shoulder lenghth hair, but not done in ringlet curls. He looks to be about 5 or 6 years old.

Hould, Ra (United States, 1924?- ): Ra was a child violin prodigy which lead to a movie careet. Ra Hould has used many names. Ra was born as Richard Arthur Hould. He worked as Ra Hould from age 4 until he was 13 years old. He changed his name when he was 13 to Ronald Sinclair. Today he is perhaps best known as Ronald Sinclair. Most of his film credits are as Ra Hould. One of his best known films is "Dangerous Holiday" (1937), a fancifal film about a child prodigy. He also appeared in "Boots And Saddles" (1937).

Huberman, Branislaw (Poland?, 1883?- ): Branislaw was a celebrated violin prodigy who at age 9 was participating in a touring opera company and giving recitals. He became friend with a younger prodigy, Arthur Rubenstein. Huberman became one of the most celebrated instrimentalists of the 20th century.



Joachim, Joseph (Hungary, 1831-18??): Joseph was the seventh son in a Hungarian Jewish family. He was a child violin prodigy. By age 14 he played under Mendelssohn's direction. Later he became associated with Liszt, Schumann, and Brahms. He preceived Arthur Ribenstein's talent when the boy was only 4 years old, but advised his parents not to rush his development.

Jones, Aled (England, ??): Aled Jones was another famed English boy sophrano during the 20th century. He was one of the last ones from the old tradition.


Kavanagh, Blatchford (United States, 1886?- ): We know very little about Blatchford Kavanagh. He was a noted bAmerican boy soprano. He was discovered by Adelina Patti singing in Chicago. Somehave desc ribed him as the greatest boy soprano in American music history. We note a caninent portait by Steffens of Chicago. It was taken about 1900, Blatchford looks about 14 years old. He wears an elaborate lace collar and floppy bow.

Kempff, Wilhelm (Germany 1895-1991) Kempff's career as a pianist lasted 65 years--from his first concert tour of Germany in 1916 to his final concert in Paris in 1981. He remains much admired for his performances of Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann and Brahms. Kempff was and is recognized as a musician's musician. He approached music with a clear sense of organization; his recordings show warmth and dignity...Kempff believed music spoke for itself and didn't need dramatic outbursts from the performer. He was born into a musical German family and had his first piano lessons at the age of 5 from his dad, a distinguished organist. His study of composition and the organ also began then. During the war years Kempff concentrated on composition. His output includes 4 symphonies, 4 operas, and numerous other works.

Kernis, Aaron Jay (1960- ) Aaron Jay Kernis, one of the youngest composers ever to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize, has become among the most esteemed musical figures of his generation. Each work of Kernis be ars the unmistakable stamp of a wildly fertile musical imagination and a distinctive voice forged out of the wide-ranging musical languages of the 1980s and 1990s. His music bursts with rich poetic imagery, brilliant instrumental color, distinctive musical wit, and infectious exuberance. His work is as likely to be inspired by the horrors of the Persian Gulf War (as in the much-talked about Symphony No.2) as the love poems of Anna Swir (Love Scenes); the earthy rhythms of Salsa (100 Greatest Dance Hits) as the antics of a child (Before Sleep and Dreams); the surrealism of Gertrude Stein (Fragments of Gertrude Stein) as the complexities and high- craftsmanship of Italian mosaics (Invisible Mosaic III). Aaron Jay Kernis was born in Philadelphia on January 15, 1960. He began his musical studies on the violin; at age 12 he began teaching himself piano, and, in the following year, composition. He continued his studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, and the Yale School of Music, working with composers as diverse as John Adams, Charles Wuorinen, and Jacob Druckman. Kernis received national acclaim for his first orchestral work, Dream of the Morning Sky, premiered by the New York Philharmonic at the 1983 Horizons Festival. Kernis is one of the most honored young American composers. In addition to the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for his String Quartet No. 2 (musica instrumentalis), his many awards have included the Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Rome Prize, an NEA grant, a Bearns Prize, a New York Foundation for the Arts Award, and three BMI Student Composer Awards.

Figure 4. This image shows Yevgeny Kissin, but HBC still knows virtually nothing about him. The name sounds Russian and he appears to be wearing a Young Pioneer neckerchief here.
Kissin, Yevgeny (Russian?, 1961- ): HBC knows virtually nothing about Yevgeny at this time. The name sounds Russian and in the image here, he appears to be wearing a Young Pioneer kerchief. His hair seems rather long compared to that worn by boys in the Soviet Union in the 1970s. He showed his talent on the piano at a very early age. I heard Kissin on the radio playing a sonata by Haydn. It was absolutely wonderful! One reviewer marveled in 1988, "He is now 27 years old and already in the Brockhaus encyclopedia! He is active in the European concert scene in the 1990s. One HBC reader reports that Kissin is one of the greatest pianist of our time.

Kreisler, Fritz (Austria, 1875-1962): Fritz Kreisler was born in Viwnna in 1875. He was one of the most distinguished and best-loved violinists of all time. He was also an amazing child prodigy or Wunderkind. From earliest childhood it was clar that Fritz had musical talent. He learned musical notes before his alphabet. His father was a not very successful musician, began teaching him music. His first violin was made from a cigar box. He received a toy violin at age 4 years. He joined in with his farher's quartet and soon had a real violin. He was taught by Jacque Auber, a concertmaster. His father saw that his soon was playing better than him and stopped playing himself. Fritz was at age 7 accepted at the Vienna Conservatory, even though no one else younger than 10 had ever been accepted. His first engagement was with Carlott Patti for which he received a box of candy. His public febut was a 1884 concert at which he won a gold medal. The prize was a three-quarter Amati, but he wanted a full size violin. Fritz's boyhood like many prodigies was different than that of most boys. Any kind of sport was prohibited out of fear of injuries, especially to the hands. He seems to have taken this in stride. He taught himself to play piano and was very good at it as well. He won a scholarship to study in Paris (1885-87). He had his first opportinity to conduct when a condutor failed to appear and Fritz filled in for him. He easily made the transition from child prodogy to adult preformer. Kreisler by 1910 was regarded as the leading young violin virtuoso of his day. He served as an officer in the Austrian Army during World War I. He became a U.S. citizen in 1943. As an adult, Kreisler wanted to teach another child prodigy, Goluboff, Grisha. Kreisler's wife (who had as bad a reputation as Kreisler was loved), however, would not allow her husband to teach.


Lanza, Mario (United States, 1921-59): Mario Lanza has been called the American Caruso. Mario Lanza's real name was Alfredo Arnoldo Cocozza. He was born in Philadelphia during 1921 to Italian emigre pareants. His mother, Maria (nee Lanza) had a beautiful soprano voice of her own and dreamed of a singing career. Her father refused to allow a stage career considering the environment unsuitable for a married woman. Mario's father, Antonio Cocozza was a World War I hero and a devote of opera. He had a wonderful collection of grand opera records. "Freddy" as he was called in the family by age 5 was showing an interest in the family Victrola where his father played his favorite Caruso recordings. Freddy began singing along with the Caruso records. It was not until age 16, however, that he decided that he wanted to be a singer. Lanza evolved from child prodigy to master singer and conductor and ememsly popular film star. Lanza perhaps did more to bring classical music to americans than any other performer. Lanza has been described by Arturo Toscanini as "the greatest voice of the 20th century". Lanza died of a heart attack in 1959. His story with music was made in a 1983 video, "Mario Lanza: American Caruso", now available on DVD.

Lagrene, Birely (France, 1966- ): A HBC reader suggests that Birely Lagrene be added to the musical prodigy list. Birely was born in French Province of Alsace near the German border in 1966. He made his first LP recording, "Routes to Django" in 1980 when he was 13 years old. It proved to be very popular with the public. He has a particularly strong following among German jazz fands. A german reviewer wrote, "It was hard to believe when I heard the delicate rythem patterns and fsast turns being played in this brilliant and fast way." Young Gypsy is now a very great jazzman. HBC has no informzation on Lagrene at this time.

Lancaster's Popular Juvenile Gospel Singers (United States, about 1910): HBC has little information on this group other that they were called "Lancaster's Popular Juvenile Gospel Singers". The boys were the Brown brothers. They were dressed alike in simple sailor suit outfits. The clothing styles and postcard format suggest that they performed about 1907-15. Hopefully we can eventually find more information about them.

Leigh, Matthew (Australia, 19??- ): Matthew Leigh, Australia's answer to Alled Jones, has been singing since he was 3 years old. Veteran star of the musical stage, he played the crippled boy in Amahl and the Night Visitors. His latest feat is to take the lead as Joseph in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical, Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. At the age of ten, he is a very normal boy, with a love of sport, including Rugby league, which he plays at the junior level, and like the boy in Billy Elliot, he enjoys dancing.

Figure 5.--Robertinno Loretti began is fabulous career as a singing bakers' boy in Rome where he was discovered by a Danish television producer in 1960.
Lester, Lee (U.S., 1930s): A HBC reader has sibmitted a photograph of Lee Lester, suggesting that he was a child violon prodigy. HBC has, however, been unable to find any information about such a prodigy. Our information is linmited. He may in fact be a prodigy, but we can not yet confirm it. He may be simply be a boy participating in a recital with his violin.

Lipatti, Dinu (Romania, 1917-50): Dinu Lipatti was born in Bucharest (1917). His parents were wealthy and talented musically. His father studied violin under Sarasate. His mother was a competent pianist and taught piano. Dinu showed an interest in music from the beginning. He played piano at a very early age. He made his public debut and pianist and composer when he was only 4 years old. His parents decided not exploiting Dinu commercially. He studied at the Bucharest Conservatoire. professors from the university would come to his home to give him private lessons. He was not a healty child and his parents decided it unwise for him to attend a formal school with other boys. We note a portrait of him as a boy of about 8 years of age was probably taken in Bucharest about 1925. He is wearing a sailor suit woth lace trim with black long stockings. Dinu left Bucharest at age 17 to begin his musical career. He was an international concert star, and his recordings are very famous. He unfortunately died of leucemia at the age of 33 (1950).

Loretti, Robertino (Italy, 1947- ): Robertino's real name is Roberto Loreti. Robertino was born during 1947 in Rome. He was raised in a large family of eight brothers and sisters. The family had little money. While Robertino was in 5th grade at age 10, his father became got sick. To help out, Robertino got a job as a baker's boy. He had a delivery route with Trastervere's restaurants. He liked to sing traditional folk songs during his deliveries. The people on his route began to notice the beautiful singing, When he delivered bread to a restaurant hosting a wedding, he was asked to sing. He amazed the guests and soon other restaurants all over Rome were asking him to sing.

Lough, Ernest Arthur (England, 1911-2000): Ernest Arthur Lough is believed to be the most famous choir boy in the world. One HBC reader reports, "Having been able to listen to some of his recordings, I would even say the best ever!" Ernest was known as, "The boy who sang 'O for the Wings of a Dove'". Ernest was born November 11, 1911 and became a chorister at the Temple Church in London in 1923 and enrolled at the City of London School which is where the Temple choristers were traditionally educated.


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Created: December 31, 1998
Last updated: 5:22 PM 10/24/2009