Child prodigy Boris Belkin first appeared with Kirill Kondrashin at the age of seven in 1955. He studied in Moscow but when he was denied a visa for a competition in Italy he defected. Since 1990 he is a Belgium citizen, but he also was teaching in Maastricht. There he was the teacher of Janine Jansen, the current Dutch superstar on the violin.
When you go to a classical music concert, you usually get a little booklet or a piece of paper with some side notes. Liner notes for the concert. A little information on the performers coupled with insights on the piece they’re going to play. The biography of a soloists invariably starts with: [name] started playing the [instrument] at the age of [fill in ridiculous young age]. If the age is above eight some explanation is in order. Superstars in classical music are supposed to have started early. My cello teacher has kids, and his oldest started fiddling with a very tiny cello at the age of two.
I’ve always wondered about that, because it gives me the image of the overly controlling parents wanting their kid to succeed, and pushing her or him over the limits. When I saw my cello teacher’s kid I wondered about this: kids just want to do what their parents do, right? They imitate because that way they learn. Most, if not all of these young stars come from musical families. Maybe the terrible image of overbearing parents is not entirely correct.