An Amazing 13-Year-Old

March 19, 2007 at 11:28 PM · I came across this youtube vid, and I just wanted to share it with all of you here at vcom. It's of a 13-year-old Max (and he's in NEC prep) playing Paganini Concerto Mov.1. It's amazing...

Replies (63)

March 20, 2007 at 08:40 AM · thanks for finding this one, Patric. Same boy plays intro and rhondo cappricioso .

this kid is SOOO relaxed, and chooses great repertoire. I love how these good kids just tackle anything.

March 20, 2007 at 02:11 PM · He's a little Rabin!

March 20, 2007 at 03:29 PM ·

March 20, 2007 at 03:53 PM · Holy mackerel! That kid is amazing!

March 20, 2007 at 06:30 PM · Sometimes I wonder why I continue to play...

March 20, 2007 at 06:35 PM · Why isn't this kid already famous? I mean, how much better can that tune be played? I'd rather listen to him than to Hilary, any day of the week.


March 20, 2007 at 07:36 PM · Allan--I thought you were in the business? I bet for every superstar in the pop world there are at least five other people who can sing the blazes out of the famous one. Hope that doesn't happen to Max. He's a great player sharing beautiful music, and he's got his youth working in his favor.

March 20, 2007 at 07:41 PM · Agreed, Kimberle.

They say that youth is wasted on the young. -but maybe not this time. This kid is definitely one to watch.

March 20, 2007 at 11:10 PM · i'd love to see him and shannon lee in a competition

March 21, 2007 at 01:09 AM · Very talented young guy..He's received some good teaching.

March 21, 2007 at 01:25 AM · Look at his feet. My guess he's a Weilerstein student or at least has had some advice from him.

March 21, 2007 at 01:57 AM · Preston, I assume you are referring to how he angles his right foot out before he starts?

That's interesting. I just tried it, and it definitely does feel like it adds some control. Pretty darn cool! I just learned something new. Thanks.

March 21, 2007 at 04:37 AM · Can you elaborate on the feet? I think many people do the same thing, but I'm not sure.

March 21, 2007 at 06:08 AM · Well, actually it had more to do with how grounded he seemed. Weilerstein talks a lot about centering your energy and drawing it from the ground.

March 21, 2007 at 06:21 AM · He's drawing his energy from the high water pants.

March 21, 2007 at 08:56 AM · Growth spurt.

March 21, 2007 at 06:20 PM · only 13yrs? wow, fantastic is right. something to see/hear to believe. no kidding!

March 21, 2007 at 06:51 PM · I did some digging, he actually studies with Lynn Chang not Weilerstein.

March 21, 2007 at 08:48 PM · Some people are just born to play the violin. This young man has so much potential.

March 21, 2007 at 09:42 PM · Yeah...kind of infuriating to watch this guy though, after I've just been hopelessly clunking and slopping and screeching my way through a few caprices......arrrrrrrrgh.....

March 21, 2007 at 10:36 PM · So much fun to watch and hear - wow!

Jim and Emily, you crack me up.

March 21, 2007 at 10:43 PM · Sharelle - would love to see this kid perform the Intro and Rondo Cap., but when I clicked on your link I only came up with's home page. (A fine page, nonetheless, mind you!) Can you post the URL here?

March 21, 2007 at 10:57 PM · Nigel Le wrote, "i'd love to see him and shannon lee in a competition"

Not me. Competitions ruin everything. Just make music.

March 21, 2007 at 11:22 PM · Allan,

Amen to that.

March 22, 2007 at 12:08 AM · Maura, i used to be the same way but now i look at it like this. I may not be good enough to play like him but i'm always good enough to listen.

March 22, 2007 at 12:35 AM · Well, yes, of course. I haven't completely lost perspective, I'm just going out of my mind thanks to those infernal Paganini caprices, and the sight of a little 13-year-old effortlessly sailing through what I tear my hair out and get nowhere on...well, I get a little grumpy. Best wishes to the kid though, he's a fantastic player. :)

March 22, 2007 at 01:04 AM · age can be deceiving here. i can imagine some are quick or quicker learners but what it comes down to, even for very very talented kids like this one, is still practice. he may be 13, but his life time cumulative practice hours, or, more appropriately, his life time QUALITY cumulative practice hours, will be a sight by itself. one more testiment that with extreme focus, great things can be achieved in a short time span.

...which begs the question, lol, can this prodigy ( i don't throw that word around easily because in most cases imo, it is an insult to the kids, a set up for the fall, something for the parents and the teachers to feel good about only) transition it into a long term success as adult?

i guess it all depends on what one means by long term success as adult, doesn't it :)?

PS: i love the way he attacks the strings with that upbow first note, so much energy yet so delicate, so refined,,,

March 22, 2007 at 01:24 AM · To me, he is typical of the modern prodigal automatons, all technique and no emotion. Big deal, another robot. You've heard one, you've heard them all. Can he score a soccer goal, can he hit a tennis ball, can he run a mile, can he do two pushups, can he figure out how much his agent will get if all this kid cares about is music and not math, too, can he do ANYTHING besides play the violin? Unless he can do something besides this I'm not impressed. BTW, I can't do that either and never could so it's not sour grapes.

March 22, 2007 at 02:12 AM · ray, a bit harsh, but can he fly a plane?:)

still, harsh but true. is total devotion to music enough? or not enough?

here is a dialogue:

i am ok.

can you be good?

i am good.

but can you be better?

i am better.

but can you be even better?

i am even better. really.

ok, can you be the best?

i am the best, darn it!

ok, i hear ya, show me how you tie your shoes?


PS, i disagree that he is all tech and no emotion. besides, with violin, you really cannot show emotion unless you have tech.

March 22, 2007 at 03:36 AM · Ray... at 13 you were figuring out what the bulge in your pants was. Give the kid some credit. He has the facility so that when he gets older, he can play with emotion without road blocks. I've seen more than enough prodigies liek this turn into wonderful artists. Give him time... not every 13 year old is in touch with their emotions.

March 22, 2007 at 04:46 AM · I got curious about who this boy is. I found this on the web. I guess it's the same person:

"Max Tan, violin

Max Tan, age 12, is a student of Mr. Lynn Chang. He lives in Connecticut with his parents and a younger sister. He studied piano since age of 6 and began his violin just a few years ago."

This was from 2005, so the age fits.


March 22, 2007 at 05:36 AM · Who knows what I was doing when I did the first link. Same boy, different piece, shorter legs, longer pants.

I am in awe. I can't agree there is no emotion, it is still fun, engrossing, As good to listen to as to watch. I am less moved by many supposedly fine adult artists.

March 22, 2007 at 08:18 AM · Allen,

This violinist is playing on a very high level. But your comparision to Hilary was odd to me. His musicianship in this piece wasn't that great. His technique was good (extremely good for his age) but she is obviously still the better player. Honestly what makes you prefer him over Hilary anyday, especially when all you heard him play was first Mvt of Paganini Concerto.

Is it you would rather hear him than her just because she is already famous and he is unknown?

And it's not a tune it's a piece.

March 22, 2007 at 04:42 PM · Well, it's a tune to me, I live in the pop world! (g) It has a melody I can hum, therefore it is in fact a tune, even if it is also a piece.

To answer your question, I think this kid plays with a LOT of feeling, counter to what Ray wrote. I enjoyed listening to him and watching him, and I honestly can't say that about Hilary. To me, she's an android. I listen to music because I want to, not because someone else tells me I should, or because someone else tells me it's really good or well-executed.

Read your own words. To me, they're kind of sad. I wrote I'd rather listen to this kid than Hilary, you counter be saying that his musicianship isn't that good. Well, there you go. I don't care how perfectly he executes things (though his chops seem fine to me) I care about wether or not I enjoy the performance.

To each his own. No problems.

March 22, 2007 at 11:20 PM · I look forward to seeing and hearing more of Max.He seems to have a natural quality in his play that is rare.I hope his future teachers are able to challenge him,and and allow his talent to bloom.

March 23, 2007 at 04:52 AM · Ray, you are being VERY unfair. That youngster is NOT a robot! He is a violinist working on perfecting his art, and he's making great progress!

March 23, 2007 at 01:41 PM · ...Very gifted, but not ready yet to play Paganini...No comparaison with Hilary Hahn please...I would be more interested in hearing him play Bach or Mozart...

March 23, 2007 at 04:19 PM · Well said, Allan. I don't necessarily agree or disagree with your point about Hilary or Max (I don't want to fight that war), but you are talking infinitely important sense when it comes down to what is enjoyable. I hope we're not so out of touch as performers that we care more about pleasing each other than we do about pleasing our audience.

March 23, 2007 at 04:00 PM · Marc, you have just given the best advice this kid could possibly hear at this stage.

Bach and Mozart at 13. Might i add some Haydn quartets and orchestral exerpts...not for technique, but to round out his musicianship and take him off of the 'soloist treadmill'

March 23, 2007 at 08:46 PM · He has a lifetime ahead of him to play the far deeper, meaningful works of Mozart and Haydn. Right now, let him perfect the mechanical aspects of the violin... Paganini is perfect for this. At the end of the day, he's more than ready to play it...

March 23, 2007 at 09:24 PM · Thank you for sharing this with us Patrick. Like you say, it's amazing just to witness talent. While I was looking at YouTube I came across this 11 year old who definitely 'has made it'! Vadim Repin playing Krennikov at age 11!

If anyone has got the full video PLEASE PLEASE send it to me!

March 23, 2007 at 10:52 PM · Wow, that Repin video is awesome, thanks for posting! :)

March 24, 2007 at 12:44 AM · marc, by your standards, I don't think any violinist would be ready for paganini.

Benny, great repin video!

March 24, 2007 at 12:56 AM · Ok, I'll back off just a bit after watching it through several times. I'm still standing on can he do anything else?

I didn't know much of anything at age 13, maybe I still don't. However, it would be nice to see kids like him being well rounded rather than one dimensional. Maybe he is, who knows.

March 24, 2007 at 01:10 AM · Ray, what makes you think he can't do anything else?

March 24, 2007 at 02:09 AM · Ray,

I had a good friend growing up who was an excellent violinist. He could play Paganini 1 at 13... he was also very good at sports and academics. I've found that even though a lot of these prodigy types are very dedicated, they are often good at other things.

I just don't get why you have to be so negative about him based on a video. All that was presented was a video of him playing Paganini, very well. Somehow from this, you extrapolate all this mess that he's one dimensional? For **** sake... he's 13!

March 24, 2007 at 02:40 AM · Speaking of not being able to do anything else, I watched this show where they asked simple questions to surgeons, mostly or exclusively brain surgeons, I think it was.

They had been so exclusively focused for such a long time, they couldn't couldn't answer questions like who's the president. It was astounding. It was exactly like Howard Stern quizzing starlets. But if I ever need surgery, I want one of those surgeons! The moral is don't feel bad if you can only do one important thing well. That's enough.

March 24, 2007 at 02:45 AM · "they couldn't couldn't answer questions like who's the president"

they probably said cheney and the testers did not get it ,,,:)

March 24, 2007 at 05:16 AM · A possibility.

March 24, 2007 at 03:06 AM · quote: " watched this show where they asked simple questions to surgeons, mostly or exclusively brain surgeons, I think it was.

They had been so exclusively focused for such a long time, they couldn't couldn't answer questions like who's the president. It was astounding. It was exactly like Howard Stern quizzing starlets."

It's not because they are so focused, it's 'cuz they spend all their free time playing golf!

-But yeah, in all seriousness, good point.

March 24, 2007 at 03:26 AM · so far one thing about violinists that surprises me is that i got a feeling that no violinists here play golf. to me the two are amazingly similar...except with violin when you are mad, you do not throw your violin or bow:)

you just practice 3 more hours, hahah!

March 24, 2007 at 04:25 AM · quote: "i got a feeling that no violinists here play golf. to me the two are amazingly similar...except with violin when you are mad, you do not throw your violin or bow."

Actually, Al, you've just brought up one important benefit of carbon-fiber!

March 24, 2007 at 05:05 AM · >Who knows what I was doing when I did the first link. Same boy, different piece, shorter legs, longer pants.

I am in awe. I can't agree there is no emotion, it is still fun, engrossing, As good to listen to as to watch. I am less moved by many supposedly fine adult artists.

Sharelle! This was wonderful! Thanks so much for posting the "better" link. Great fun to watch and hear. Although I noticed the title used was "Rondo of Capriccioso", which made me smile. Can't say I've ever seen it called that before. Makes it sound like something I'd order in a nice restaurant. : ) Medium rare.

I followed that link over to another I'd never seen (have seen Stern and Heifetz recordings of this piece before) to a perfromance by a guy named Clayton Haslop. Wow. Wonderful. Such a thrill to hear him. Anyone heard of him before? I can only critique him as a listener and not a player, but boy oh boy, did I enjoy listening.

Anyway, thanks, Sharelle. I love Saint Saens. And this kid is great.

March 24, 2007 at 07:52 AM · I play golf!

March 24, 2007 at 11:38 AM · not fair patrick.. because you live in heaven on earth!

March 24, 2007 at 12:06 PM · I'm bothered by some of the responses posted to this video. This is a real little boy, a contemporary (as opposed to an archival video of some public figure.) The video was reposted here by a third party who admires the boy's playing. Someone else later identified him and his teacher by name. This video appears to be an audition tape (I don't see an audience) and once might infer that in a real performance situation he would be more energize by the presence of an audience.

I don't know why this video was on YouTube, but the YouTube site poster does not appear to be his parent either. I could be wrong, but I am certain that neither he nor his parents nor his teacher posted this tape for critique on Although the details of his identity are available to anyone with a little extra time and a web-browser, it seems untoward to engage in dismissive, negative criticism and speculation, and to second-guess his teacher's choice of repertoire.

March 24, 2007 at 06:42 PM · HI Elizabeth. Right on! I couldn't agree more with you. Vcom certainly does show the biases of some people. But, then I suppose this is what free internet and free speech is all about. Still, I think free speech regarding criticisms of others should be regarded as a priviledge and something to be given on the basis of knowledge - definitely tempered.

March 24, 2007 at 08:13 PM · You're right Elizabeth. my apologies for being so forward.

March 24, 2007 at 07:45 PM · I'm not saying this young man isn't well rounded, however, I stand by what I said, it was posed as a question, "can he do anything else?" Maybe he can, if so I'm doubly impressed. I have seen many, not just a few, prodigal boys and girls, young men and women, who were so involved in their expertise that they had no concept of the real world. Kids with incredible abilities in music, the siences, and, yes, sports, who did absolutely nothing else, period. I'm basing what I wrote on actual people I've known throughout my life. Not just one or two, but many. And no, I'm not going to mention names as one or two of those prodigies actually made it. Most do not.

Close to home, for example, our Daughter was a prodigy on skis. Her coaches used that word. When she was 8 I dumped her in a ski school to get rid of her while my former pro athlete wife and I went skiing. The following day the head of the school came to us and said he was sorry, but there was nothing more the school could teach her on that particular mountain unless he hauled in a U.S. Ski Team coach for private instruction. He did, and he told us the same thing and used the prodigy word.

Our Daughter was brilliant on skis, but that was it. Her entire life was on skis year round. Forget her academics and life skills, but she left her coaches in the dust. Now, several knee operations later she told me just last week how foolish she had been and how she wouldn't listen to her parents about being well rounded. She said, and I quote, "Dad, I'm paying big time now for being world class at only one thing. You and Mom were right." I see the same thing in music and science prodigies. There is some good news out of this, though. A few years ago while her military husband was away some jerk got into her apartment and attempted to "molest" her. Her legs and body were so strong I watched her leg press a thousand pounds three times one session. Yes, it was a thousand pounds even. She also has a high martial arts belt. She hit the big guy so hard he was doubled over and kicked him so hard with her powerful legs the surgeons said he will never have children.

If you are a prodigy and you want to do your skill for a living, go for it and I will be happy to watch or listen to you, but please go outside and wrestle your brother or the dog in some mud. Get dirty. Go out on dates. Volunteer at a hospital. Just get your nose out of the science books or music for awhile every day and be a normal kid. That's all I ask.

March 24, 2007 at 08:30 PM · Haha glad to hear that guy won't be having any kids Ray.

March 24, 2007 at 11:50 PM · Thanks for posting, Ray. I have a student who is a "prodigy," and I have used that word. Reading what you have to say certainly makes me rethink myself and what is best for my student. I wouldn't want her to grow up thinking the entire reason for her existence is wrapped up in a stick of wood. Life is deeper than that. It can all be taken away as quickly as it is given, and when it is, we find that what is outside us does not define what is inside us.

March 25, 2007 at 12:51 AM · will always remember that scene from the movie amadeus where the old man court composer lamented in anger and pain to God?... why do you give me the passion but not the talent???!!!

meanwhile, that POS mozart makes the most splendid music, JUST LIKE THAT! Grrrrrrrr...


was glancing through the Julliard Journal and saw a little writing by a young lady pianist where she maintained that instead of pursuing the beauty of the music solely, may want to learn to be there for others. she spends time talking to lonely elderly patients as a volunteer. i think the joy she feels and brings to others is part of being an artist. music needs to connect to life, so does that mean if there is no life, then there is no music?:)

March 25, 2007 at 01:16 AM · Thanks Ray for your comments. I think I understand exactly what you are saying. Grew up in Long Beach, CA. Played in the youth orchestra when an 11 year old sitting along side me won the young peoples competition in Long Beach that year. Then it was a big deal (Camilla Wicks won a few years later playing the Tch VC) His father was a doctor and I think he went into medicine because he at least understood that he was no Heifetz even with his tremendous gift. He played the Mendelssohn Em

with the Long Beach Phil. My teacher sat in the #2 chair 1st Vln section so I was in on who played etc.

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