George Frederick Pinto: a promising young prodigy

                           George Frederick Pinto: a promising young prodigy

Despite his tragically short life, George Frederick Pinto was an incredibly successful performer and an important harbinger of the romantic era in music. Born in 1785, Pinto was an English composer and performer with Portuguese ancestry. His mother was named Julia Pinto and was the daughter of Thomas Pinto (1714-1780), a famous violinist and composer from London. Although his father died young, Pinto was an only child and therefore benefited from constant attention. Pinto began the violin at a very young age and at eight started studying with Johann Peter Salomon, a German impresario and concertmaster to Haydn’s orchestra in London, who presented him as a prodigy. 

In his youth, Pinto’s primary musical influences were his mother, a composer with a published vocal duet entitled The Morning (c.1788), and his step-grandmother, singer Charlotte Brent. At the age of ten, Pinto played in public for the first time at Raimondi’s concert at the New Lyceum in Hanover Square. He played a violin concerto by Giornovichi.

Here is an example of a Giornovichi violin concerto:


Between 1798 and 1803, Pinto toured London and the provinces and even made two trips to Paris. On one occasion, the young violinist played a violin and piano sonata with John Field, an Irish composer and pianist. In addition to the violin, Pinto excelled on the piano. Influenced by Mozart, Dussek, and Cramer, Pinto composed for solo keyboard, for violin, and for voice. All of his compositions were written within a period of only a few years, from the age of sixteen until six months before his death. He was said to have worked feverishly and sometimes even carelessly.


Pinto’s originality and his “advanced, romantic style of harmonic expression” crowned him “...’a “prophet” of keyboard things to come…” His music foreshadows that of Beethoven, Schubert and Chopin. At an incredibly young age, Pinto’s vocal songs rivaled those of Schubert, and his sonatas for violin and piano showcased the qualities of both instruments, in duet with each other.

Here is a recording of the first movement of Pinto's Piano Concerto in C minor:


Pinto’s teacher Salomon stated “that ‘if he had lived and been able to resist the allurements of society, England would have had the honour of producing a second Mozart.” These allurements to which Salomon refers have been interpreted as “euphemisms for open homosexuality.” Pinto was kind-hearted, handsome, intelligent, and loved animals, especially birds.


In 1804, Pinto became more and more sick and in 1805 played his last concert. Just a few months later, Pinto had died of Tuberculosis. Despite his incredibly short career, Pinto made his talent known: “In promise he was by far the most remarkable English composer of his generation, and one who might have done almost anything if he had lived longer.”



Written by Fiona Boyd, Research and Marketing Intern