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Late Bloomers

in Music


Many adults have doubts about whether they should learn to play an instrument, start composing or begin writing songs. They think that, given their age, it's too late to try or that they are too old for it. However, there are more than a few successful composers who are considered "late bloomers" in their field. They prove to us that we are never too old to dream. Dreams have no shelf life, it never expires. As long as we believe, anything is possible.

Anton Bruckner started out playing the organ when he was young and became a highly proficent organist by his 20s. But it was after hearing Wagner's "Tannhauser" in 1863 that Bruckner felt inspired to write his own symphonies. His "Symphony No. 7 in E Major," which premiered in Leipzig in 1884, was a huge success and marked a turning point in his career. It is believed that Bruckner wrote the said composition between 1881 to 1883, when he was already in his late 50s.

Elliott Carter attended Harvard University where he first majored in English literature before pursuing music. His serious foray into composing began in the early 1930s, but his most creative period was during the 1980s. His "String Quartet No. 2" won a Pulitzer Prize in 1960 when he was already in his early 50s. His most recent composition include "Interventions" which premiered in 2008 when he was 100 years old.

Cesar Franck entered the Liège Conservatory to study piano when he was 8 years old. He later began composing for and playing the organ by the 1840s. He completed his first and only symphony, "Symphony in D minor," in 1888 when he was already 66 years old.

Leoš Janácek was a teacher at Brno (Moravia's capital) and by 1919 was teaching composition at the Prague Conservatory. He published his first composition in his early 20s but it is his opera Jenufa that propelled his operatic career. The said opera was composed between 1894 to 1903 and premiered in Prague in 1916 when he was already 62 years old.

Giuseppe Verdi began playing the keyboard at age 3 and at age 7 began playing the spinet. When he was 10 years old, the organist of a church in Busseto taught him how to play the organ. He would become a highly-regarded composer, especially of grand operas. His opera Aida premiered in 1871 when he was already 58 years old. He wrote "Otello" when he was 73 and "Falstaff" at age 80.

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