As I’ve already mentioned, the author is Ann Hulbert and the subtitle is The Hidden Lives and Lessons of America’s Child Prodigies. This is an excellent book, and so far I am overwhelmed by the high quality and quantity of books coming out this January (in comparison to last year’s near drought). You don”t have to care about prodigies per se, I would recommend this to anyone in Silicon Valley or finance who thinks about how to find and recruit talent, or anyone interested in the history of art, science, or technology.
I had not known that musician Henry Cowell was the protege of Thorstein Vebeln’s ex-wife, Ellen Veblen. Here is just one bit about Henry:
He was in his element. As Clarissa noted, Henry was highly receptive without being unduly impressionable. “Always he has worked mostly alone,” she observed, “browsing for information, when he felt in need of it, whenever a door opened.”
As a child, he quickly outgrew his town’s public library, and was suspected of skimming the books he claimed to have read. He could give a clear and detailed summary of each. He was born in rural Menlo Park, formal schooling never really worked for him, and Irish music remained a touchstone of his composing, albeit supplemented with tone clusters, extreme dissonance, and a variety of rhythmic innovations. To many people at the time, his music sounded like noise.
Here is a short YouTube clip of Cowell playing the piano.
It’s not a “this puts all the pieces together for you book,” but still I am finding it engrossing. I take the overall message to be a) mentorship is very important for prodigies, and b) most mentors have no idea what they are doing.