Adrian Romoff, 9-Year-Old Pianist, Makes His Mark on Reality TV, YouTube

Friday, August 15, 2014 - 05:00 PM

Adrian Romoff performs on 'America's Got Talent' on NBC Adrian Romoff performs on 'America's Got Talent' on NBC (YouTube)

Adrian Romoff, the nine-year-old pianist who parlayed early classical training into a showy reality TV act, departed this week from "America's Got Talent" on NBC.

But before he was sent home in the elimination round, Romoff, who lives near Atlanta, GA, had a remarkable two-month run. He delivered renditions of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee, discussed how he skipped five grades in school, and hammed it up with the panel of celebrity judges (Howie Mandel, Howard Stern, Heidi Klum and Mel B).

While fans were somewhat divided on his performances, the show fueled his notoriety on YouTube, with one clip garnering nearly 7 million views. This performance starts at 1:23.

Romoff joins a line of pre-teen performers who have found a classical niche on televised talent contests, among them, the singers Jackie Evancho ("America's Got Talent") and Amira Willighagen ("Holland's Got Talent"). Along with recording deals and television appearances, they have stoked an often spirited debate about the benefits and drawbacks of such notoriety at an early age.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Romoff will be entering Juilliard's Pre-College Division this fall. Below is a video of Romoff in a more traditional guise, playing Beethoven's Sonata No. 17 and Chopin's C-Sharp minor Nocturne.

Watch the videos and tell us what you think of Romoff's performances in the comments box below.


More in:

Comments [10]

Julie Gobbell from United States

AGT is not a good venue for classical music because of the time constraints. There's the Minute Waltz along with the Flight of the Bumblebee, which he played SO fast it just sounded very rushed. I did like the jazzed up arrangement. It was like Heavy Metal!--just too rushed. He attempted tome appropriate arrangements of well known pieces on other AGT performances. Those might have been more successful with better coaching and slowing down a bit to give clean & precise technique. There were too many fumbles and wrong notes. A piece will sound vivace if the notes are clean and the tempo solid. He does have a great personality but will learn to be maintain a respectful, genuine, and professional demeaner despite the hype for AGT or media settings. His mom should not allow flashy or overly decorated stage settings but keep it simple. His gifts will speak for themselves. His performances here of the Beethoven and Chopin are beautiful. I hear the music and only the music.The performances are clean and genuine. I often watch Jodie Foster's "Little Man Tate." I think this young man has a good foundation to be well-adjusted. I imagine being a progidy can be difficult and lonely. The Julliard pre-college program hopefully has other progidies as he will need friends his own age. I wish him a long, happy life and hope he finds his true calling. I hope he will be able to help make this world a better place while keeping emotionally healthy and keep his zeal and jofulness!

Jul. 15 2015 03:19 AM
Kevin Wang from Los Angeles, CA

As someone who is well-versed in the classics, (over 30 years studying and 15 years teaching piano) I can tell you all that this boy is incredibly "overhyped," as people like to put it these days. His playing lacks the technical proficiency and fury/spirit that the "Tempest" sonata demands. The Nocturne, even though he tries to show it with his contorted facial expressions, doesn't harbor the true pain that Chopin wanted exhibited in this piece of music. His exaggerated motions are so artificial that anybody with any respectable classical piano experience can tell that they no longer are expressions of emotion and rather empty showmanship.

This, however, is not his fault; rather, it is his teacher's. Finding a better teacher would greatly increase the chances of landing him in a music school like Juilliard or Curtis (if that's the future he's looking toward). Keeping in mind that he's only 9 years old, he has still many years ahead of him to perfect his craft. Best of luck!

Jan. 03 2015 12:38 AM
Edony Lamont-Elder from Florida

Beautiful playing and exceptional for a 9 yr old. He is truly a prodigy and I wish him all the best for his future. He has a long life ahead of him and it will be interesting to find out what he really does with his adult life. He is accomplished in so many things. Quite a talented child.

Nov. 17 2014 03:13 PM
Carol Walters from Missouri, USA

While I am no expert on the classics, this young man certainly plays well. You can see and hear the passion he has for music. While others think his "theatrics" are overdone, I do not. His actions and visual expressions do reach out to people as well as the music he plays. He is a happy young man thus his enthusiasm comes out in his music. He is not stuffy or boring as I have seen in some other child prodigies. He has a delightful presentation of himself. He is in touch with emotion and how music "affects the savage beast" in all of us. As he grows and matures, I hope he never loses his ability to relate to people through his music. His gift of great intelligence is certainly something he seems willing to share. His musical "genius" is a wonderful gift as well. He could become a great scientist someday as well as a musical genius.I hope to hear him continue to play these beautiful classics. Maybe he will write some of his own one day.

Nov. 16 2014 07:40 PM
David Adler from Cape Cod

The kid is quite good but he reminds me of a young Lang Lang. So, he is best heard but no seen. Don't forget that Kissin was playing concertos in public
at age 13. I wonder if Adrian will do the same.

Aug. 20 2014 04:01 PM
Mike J from Omaha, NE

He certainly didn't show this type of talent on the reality show. I could have sworn I heard missed notes on his performance on the show which to me was a real turnoff. Here ... wow ... what can I say? His playing is very very good. If only he would have played THIS on the show ... perhaps he wouldn't have been eliminated. But then again perhaps the public at large wouldn't have appreciated this. I'd like to hear other people's comments on this ... but I question whether the general public really appreciates good classical music. This kid has it. And here's an aside ... it seems over the last few years that the talent on the America's Got Talent show has been very very flat. If someone came and played classical music that wasn't too long (since I think you do have a time limit) I'm wondering if a classical player could make it. I'd sure like to see that happen. That would restore credibility in the show. The last few years have gotten to the point where I don't even want to watch it ... the talent has been that lackluster. Adrian ... PLEASE come back and try again next year ... but next year ... PLEASE play something like this that REALLY shows your talent off. You deserve to win. I've always said kids don't win on AGT. Look at Jackie Evancho how good she was, and yet she didn't even win. But someone with your obvious talent ... I think you very well could put the rest of the talent in their place ... provided the public would enjoy classical music. That's what I question. I just don't know how much th general public would accept it. But for my money, you're fantastic. PLEASE keep it up.

Aug. 17 2014 04:47 PM
Anne Engels from Montana

Plays phenomenally well but I find the theatrics a bit overdone and a turn off.
Rather "hammy" and distracts from the quality of his playing. Might do well to take some lessons in emotional expression from some of the "elder" statesmen of the professional pianists. However, one can hope that his theatrics will mature as he grows a bit older.

Aug. 16 2014 04:16 PM
George Jochnowitz from New York

He plays with extraordinary understanding of the music. His performance is simply great.

Aug. 16 2014 02:09 PM
Tony from NYC

There is no "otherwise", Ms. Rose, this child is an extraordinary talent! There is no "seems" about it either! You don't have to look to hear the feeling.

Aug. 16 2014 01:44 PM
Diana C. Rose from Florida, U.S.A.

His hands are so small, cannot believe he can spread his fingers this far; Probably needs to slow down somewhat so he doesn't miss notes otherwise he is most definitely a child prodigy. He seems to have a great inner feeling and touch for the music he is playing.

Aug. 16 2014 10:26 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.

Follow WQXR 







About WQXR Blog

Read WQXR's coverage of classical music news, trends, commentary and more here at the WQXR Blog.