Blind Russian teenager the new Mozart?

Being blind from birth has not stopped gifted Sasha Ryzhikov, a young teenager from Siberia, from becoming an award-winning pianist.

The boy takes inspiration from the sounds of nature, and his talent for composing music has people ranking him alongside famous musicians.

Lyudmila Tykalova, Sasha’s music teacher, notes, “Sasha is a very talented musician and composer. He's a genius. He’s like Mozart.”

Sasha Ryzhikov has been blind from birth, but he believes people don't need eyes to play music.

He first touched the keys of the piano when he was three years old. Today, Sasha easily performs pieces by the musical greats and also composes his own music.

“Once I gave Sasha a task – to write some short blues pieces. In just 10 minutes he told me: ‘I am ready.’ You’re ready? But you didn't even touch the piano? ‘I wrote it in my head,’ he said. To tell the truth I was a little afraid of what he might play, but when he started playing – I tell you, it was so beautiful!” remembers Lyudmila Tykalova.

Unlike Wolfgang Amadeus, whose father was a respected musician, this young Russian Mozart was born into a family of engineers in Siberia, and is their first musical addition.

“When he was just a year old, he often tapped out the music from cartoons, or music from TV that he heard. He copied children's songs and songs he heard on the radio on his toy-piano,” Elena Ivanova, Sasha's mother, says, adding “We gave him a real piano as it was clear already that he was born to become a musician.”

The young genius derives inspiration from everything around him, although nature remains the richest source.

Sasha's grandmother Nadezhda Ivanova says, “He's always asking me to let him listen to the wind, rain or sea, or other sounds of nature – it’s always inspired him. He even wrote a couple of pieces using that experience.”

As a musician and composer, Sasha has already become the laureate of a number of musical contests. In January he will travel to Los Angeles to represent Russia at the international festival of young musicians “The Crystal Magnolia”.