tv 60 Minutes CBS August 11, 2019 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT
and ford. we go further, so you can. >> does the mallory case fit a pattern that you're seeing coming from chinese intelligence? >> yes, we currently have three pending cases against former intelligence officers, and they're alleged to have been spying on behalf of the chinese. >> it's hard to overstate how unusual it is to have three cases like this ongoing. >> it's not unusual, it's unprecedented. >> kevin mallory was a former clandestine case officer for the c.i.a. who the justice department believes was recruited by a chinese spy. >> did you send them anything on that phone? >> i sent them some tests. >> tonight, "60 minutes" gets an insider's view of what espionage looks like. ( ticking ) >> chris downey had constructed the life he'd always wanted, an
architect with a good job. >> that whole exterior. >> happily married and coaching his ten-year-old son's little league. but then something awful happened. he went blind, and that threatened to end his career. >> is that different? >> oh, yeah. >> or did it? >> i'm a kid again. i'm relearning so much of architecture. it wasn't about what i'm missing in architecture, it was about what i had been missing in architecture. ( ticking ) >> we cannot explain what you are about to hear. ♪ ♪ science doesn't know enough about the brain to make sense of alma. alma deutscher is an accomplished british composer in the classical style. she's a viuo and the violin. ♪ ♪ and she is 12-years-old. people compare you to mozart. what do you think of that? >> of course, i love mozart, and
i would have loved him to be my teacher. but i think i would prefer to be the first alma than to be a second mozart. ( ticking ) >> i'm steve kroft. >> i'm lesley stahl. >> i'm scott pelley. >> i'm anderson cooper. >> i'm bill whitaker. those stories, tonight, on "60 minutes." ( ticking ) oh! oh! oh! ♪ ozempic®! ♪ (announcer) people with type 2 diabetes are excited about the potential of once-weekly ozempic®. in a study with ozempic®, a majority of adults lowered their blood sugar and reached an a1c of less than 7 and maintained it. oh! under 7? (announcer) and you may lose weight. in the same one-year study, adults lost on average up to 12 pounds. oh! up to 12 pounds? (announcer) a two-year study showed that ozempic® does not kert attache risk of majarculats oh! no ias for treating diabetes, or for people
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he was out of work, three months behind on his mortgage, and thousands of dollars in debt. but as we first reported in december-- and as the chinese would discover, kevin mallory wasn't exactly james bond. the department of justice agreed to show us how they caught mr. mallory and why they believe his recruitment by china is part of a massive clandestine campaign to steal not just national security secrets from the u.s. government, but industrial and technological secrets from american companies. this is what espionage looks like. the man standing on the right in the yellow shirt is kevin mallory, who once held a top secret security clearance while working for the c.i.a. and the defense intelligence agency. footage from a surveillance camera at a virginia fed ex store in april 2017 caught him as he prepared to hand a clerk stacks of classified documents to be scanned onto an s.d. card- the kind that can be inserted into a mobile phone.
>> ryan gaynor: so this is the rare moment, right, in an investigation-- in an espionage case, where we actually have video footage of the individual preparing the classified material for transmission to the foreign intelligence service. >> cooper: we watched the tape with ryan gaynor, the f.b.i. supervisory special agent who investigated mallory, and jennifer gellie, who prosecuted the case against him for the national security division of the department of justice. they say kevin mallory sent national security secrets to a chinese spy on a covert communication device. >> jennifer gellie: so here you see him talking with the store clerk about the scanning job. and throughout this video, you see little pops of yellow-- little yellow pieces of paper that flash by when he's showing the documents. that was important for us, because the document that he successfully passed consisted of a type informatollowed two yellow sheets of paper with his handwriting on them. and here, you can see-- >> cooper: so that's the-- those are the yellow sheets of paper? >> gellie: you can see the yellow sheets going through that scanning process.
>> cooper: prosecutors say some of the information mallory sent could have revealed the identity of a couple who had secretly spied on china for the u.s. it was a very personal betrayal. mallory had supervised the couple years before. he was betraying people. this is people's lives at stake. >> gellie: correct. these were documents that specifically talked about human beings, whose lives could be in danger. >> cooper: if they had traveled to china, they could have been arrested. >> john demers: at the time he gave the information to the chinese intelligence officer, he knew they were planning on traveling to china. >> cooper: john demers is the top official in charge of the department of justice's national security division, which helps guard the u.s. against terrorism, cyber-attacks, and espionage. he's responsible for coordinating activities across law enforcement and u.s. intelligence agencies. he says kevin mallory's recruitment is just one of many efforts by the chinese ministry of state security, or m.s.s., to spy on the united states. what is m.s.s.?
>> demers: so, m.s.s. is the principal intelligence agency of the chinese government. and in rough terms, it is like the c.i.a. and the f.b.i. put together. their capabilities are world- class. they have cyber capabilities, they have expertise in turning people into cooperators, and they have all of the tools and expertise of a very capable intelligence organization. >> cooper: john demers says kevin mallory hadn't worked for any u.s. intelligence agency in five years, but he was still of interest to china. he spoke mandarin, was desperate for money, and had classified information he might be willing to sell. >> demers: you're looking for people who will be willing to work with you for one reason or another. you start very slowly. you start to see what information they are willing to share with you originally. innocuous information. then, something maybe slightly more sensitive, and so forth. and that relationship develops over time. it's a patient process. >> cooper: it's a grooming of an
intelligence asset. >> demers: it's a grooming, and it's a constant testing to see what the person is willing to do. >> cooper: the chinese didn't reach out to kevin mallory in a dark alley, like in a movie. they made contact with him like any job recruiter would. they sent him a message on the career networking site, linkedin. what could the chinese tell from reading his linkedin page? >> gaynor: when you look at this linkedin page, its very clear immediately that he worked in national security, that he had the type of background that the chinese intelligence services are most interested in >> cooper: he's good at national security, military, international relations, counter-terrorism, security clearance, dispute resolution. this is a signpost to "i was a former intelligence official." >> gaynor: and it led to what you would expect. >> cooper: mallory ended up in contact with this man, who called himself michael yang and claimed to be an employee at a chinese think tank. so he's a chinese intelligence officer? >> gaynor: we believe him to be a chinese intelligence officer. and more importantly, mr. mallory, when meeting with him, believed him to be an intelligence officer. >> cooper: over the next several weeks, michael yang paid mallory
$25,000 to come to shanghai twice, and mallory reached out to former colleagues at the c.i.a. asking to be put in touch with people who had current intelligence on china. prosecutors say his former colleagues grew suspicious and reported him to c.i.a. security, putting him on the radar of law enforcement. when mallory returned from his second trip to china, he was stopped by customs at chicago's o'hare airport. he had lied on this form about how much money he was carrying-- more than $16,000 in cash-- and agents discovered this box with a phone in it. mallory claimed it was a gift for his wife, but it was actually a covert communication device that had been given to him by chinese intelligence. this looks just like a regular phone. what makes it a covert communication device? >> gaynor: so, it's not so much the hardware. the phone itself had a unique piece of software installed on it, designed to allow secure
communication, both in text and also the secure transmission of documents later. >> cooper: you might think a former c.i.a. officer would be cautious about the texts he sends to a chinese spy, but kevin mallory was remarkably direct, complaining about the money he was paid and the risk he was taking. "your object is to gain information," he told michael yang, "and my object is to be paid for it." "i will destroy all electronic records after you confirm receipt," mallory wrote to yang. "i already destroyed the paper records. i cannot keep these around. too dangerous." "at this point, all the risk is on me." >> gellie: so he says, "i'm taking all the risk," but then he goes on, a few bubbles later, to actually try to transmit additional information to the chinese. >> cooper: but technology wasn't mallory's strong suit. he complained to michael yang that the phone wasn't working properly. "this system sucks. it's too cumbersome," he wrote. "i put all these messages, and then, and you can't read them because you are not logged in at the same time. that's a poor system."
at this point, prosecutors say, mallory was scared. he'd been stopped at customs, and he feared the c.i.a. and f.b.i. were onto him. prosecutors say he decided to come up with a cover story, and reached out to the c.i.a., telling them he thought he was being recruited by chinese spies. the c.i.a. called him in for an interview. >> kevin mallory: my judgement is, and we haven't gone through this conversation, that these guys work for chinese intelligence. so my sense is that they were looking for government secrets. u.s. government secrets, at some level. >> cooper: in this meeting, mallory admitted the phone was a covert communication device given to him by the chinese, but, prosecutors say, he lied about the classified documents he'd already sent. >> dorsey: did you send them anything on that phone? >> mallory: i sent them some tests of some sort, just to see if i could do it right. and i couldn't figure it out. i messed that up. >> gaynor: he's trying to control the narrative. so what you have here likely is an attempt to steer the story, to explain away some of the more
alerting pieces, while not admitting to the criminal acvity of proving the classified information to the foreign intelligence service. >> gellie: we now know, at this point in time, kevin mallory has successfully sent the classified table of contents, the classified white paper, and tried to send several other documents unsuccessfully. >> cooper: mallory offered to bring in the phone to be examined by the c.i.a., confident that all his messages to michael yang had automatically been deleted. so, he believes everything he's sent has disappeared from the device. so that's why he's willing to bring the device in? >> gaynor: we have every reason to believe that he believed at the time that those communications would be gone. >> cooper: two weeks later, mallory arrived at a hotel room in ashburn, virginia for a second meeting with the c.i.a. when he got there, the f.b.i. was waiting for him, along with a computer forensic examiner. he agreed to show them how the phone worked. >> gaynor: when he goes to demonstrate it, up on the screen where he expects to have his whole chat history basically deleted, up on the screen, comes
some of the chat history. >> cooper: the f.b.i. recorded the meeting. >> mallory: i'm, i'm surprised it kept this much. >> f.b.i. agent: so, you made a comment that you were surprised that there was this much there. >> mallory: right, because you-- because this, right-- because, in the past, maybe it was the screen size or something because some of it just disappeared. >> cooper: one of the most incriminating messages that appeared on the phone was mallory planning another trip to china. "i can also come in the middle of june," he wrote. "i can bring the remainder of the documents i have at that time." >> gaynor: from the f.b.i. perspective, this is a pivotal moment in the investigation. >> cooper: four weeks later, the f.b.i. arrested kevin mallory and searched his home. hidden in the back of this closet in a junk drawer, agents discovered an s.d. card wrapped in tinfoil, whad placed eight secret and top secret documents- the same ones he scanned at that fed ex store in april.>>aynor: it is our belt it was his intention to take this s.d. card to china to
provide to them. >> cooper: does the mallory case fit a pattern that you're seeing coming from chinese intelligence? >> demers: yes. we currently have three pending cases against former intelligence officers, and they're alleged to have been spying on behalf of the chinese. >> cooper: it's hard to overstate how unusual it is to have three cases like this ongoing. >> demers: it's not unusual. it's unprecedented. >> bill evanina: to me, it's disappointing, and it's really hurtful, i think, to everyone, to know that we still have people who are willing to betray the u.s. for a few dollars. >> cooper: bill evanina is director of the national counter-intelligence and security center, a division of the office of the director of national intelligence. he serves as the u.s. government's top counter- intelligence official. when it comes to espionage against the united states, does china pose the greatest threat, or russia? >> evanina: when it comes to espionage, china poses the greatest threat. and it's not even close, ed to ia or iran any other country. and if you include economic espionage, industrial espionage,
it's not even in the same ballgame. >> cooper: when most people think of espionage, they think of somebody in a trench coat, trying to steal a state secret. what's happening now with china, it's not just about state secrets, it's about technological secrets. that's the prize that china wants. >> evanina: that's correct. it's trade secrets, proprietary data, intelligence, emerging technology, nanotechnology, hybrid, anything that they can see that is the future. super-computing, encryption. those are the issues that they look at. and they have a prioritized schedule that they look at, and they send people forward to go collect that data. >> cooper: john demers, of the justice department's national security division, says since 2011, more than 90% of the economic espionage cases they have charged have involved china, which has stolen secrets about everything from genetically-modified rice seeds, to wind turbine technology. this is a persistent campaign you're seeing? >> demers: yes, very persistent, very sophisticated. very well-resourced, very patient and very broad in scope.
>> cooper: demers says chinese operatives have intensified their efforts on industries critical to chinese president xi jinping's "made in china 2025" program, a ten-year plan to jump ahead of the united states in aerospace, automation, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and other cutting- edge industries. i think some people who see this are going to think, "well, this is something the u.s. must do as well." >> demers: the u.s. intelligence community doesn't take trade secrets from foreign companies for the benefit of american companies. >> cooper: that doesn't happen? >> demers: this is not something that we do. >> cooper: as for former c.i.a. officer kevin mallory, he continues to deny sending any classified information to the chinese. last june, a jury in virginia found him guilty of conspiracy under the espionage act and lying to the f.b.i. in may, mallory was sentenced to 20 years in prison. ( ticking )
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married, with a ten-year-old son. he was an assistant little league coach and avid cyclist. and then doctors discovered a tumor in his brain. he had surgery, and the tumor was safely gone. but downey was left completely blind. as we first reported in january, what he has done in the ten years since losing his sight-- as a person, and as an architect-- can only be described as a different kind of vision. several mornings a week, as the sun rises over the oakland estuary in california, an amateur rowing team works theitf them is blind... and chris downey thinks that's just fine. >> chris downey: it's really exciting to be in a sport where nobody looks in the direction they're going. you face this way in the boat, and you're going that way. so, okay, even-steven.
we were just talking about that whole exterior. >> stahl: it's not exactly "even-steven" in this design meeting, where downey is collaborating with sighted architects on a new hospital building... >> chris downey: under the canopy, where you could have down lights. >> stahl: ...but he hasn't let that stop him. here you are, in a profession that basically requires you to read-- read designs and draw designs. you must've thought in your head, "that is insurmountable?" >> chris downey: no. i never thought-- >> stahl: you never thought-- you never thought the word "insurmountable--" >> chris downey: lots of people, friends that were architects and anybody else would say, "oh my god, it's the worst thing imaginable, to be an architect and to lose your sight. i can't imagine anything worse." but i quickly came to realize that the creative process is an intellectual process. it's how you think. so i just needed new tools. >> stahl: new tools? downey found a printer that could emboss architectural drawings so that he could read
and understand through touch. >> chris downey: they look like normal prints, normal drawings, on the computer. but then they just come out in tactile form. >> stahl: so it is like braille, isn't it? >> chris downey: right. >> stahl: and he came up with a way to "sketch" his ideas onto the plans using a simple children's toy-- malleable wax sticks that he shapes to show his modifications to others. and he says something surprising started to happen. he could no longer see buildings and spaces, but he began hearing them. >> chris downey: the sounds, the textures... and the sound changes because there's a canopy overhead. >> stahl: you can sense that we're under a canopy? >> chris downey: yes. it's all a matter of how the sound works, from the tip of the cane. i was fascinated-- walking through buildings that i knew sighted, but i was experiencing them in a different way. i was hearing the architecture, i was feeling the space. >> stahl: it sounds as if you began almost enjoying, in a way,
being the blind architect. >> chris downey: it was sort of this-- this excitement of, "i'm a kid again. i'm-- i'm relearning so much of architecture." it wasn't about what i'm missing in architecture, it's what-- it was about what i had been missing in architecture. >> is that sufficiently different? >> chris downey: oh, yeah. ( laughter ) >> stahl: chris downey's upbeat attitude doesn't mean that he didn't go through one of the most frightening experiences imaginable, and struggle. he and his wife rosa were living in this same home with their son renzo, then ten, when downey first noticed a problem while playing catch with renzo. the ball kept coming in and out of sight. the cause turned out to be a tumor near his optic nerve. surgery to remove it lasted 9.5 hours. he says his surgeon had told him there was a slight risk of total sight loss, but that he'd never had it happen.
>> rosa downey: when he first came out of surgery, he was able to see. >> stahl: but then things started to go wrong. the next day, half his field of vision disappeared. and then? >> chris downey: the next time i woke up, it was... all gone. it was just black. >> stahl: complete and total darkness? no light, you can't see anything? >> chris downey: no light. it's dark. it's all dark. >> stahl: after days of frantic testing, a surgeon told him it was permanent, irreversible, and sent in a social worker. >> chris downey: she says, "oh, and i see from your chart you're-- you're an architect, so we can talk about career alternatives." >> stahl: career alternatives, right away? >> chris downey: i hadn't been told i was officially blind for 24 hours, and-- >> stahl: and she's saying you can't be an architect anymore. >> chris downey: yeah, and she was saying we could talk about career alternatives. i felt like these walls were being built up around me, just like, "yeah, you're getting boxed in." >> stahl: alone that night in his room, downey did some
serious thinking... about his son, and about his own father, who had died from complications after surgery when downey was seven years old. >> chris downey: i could quickly appreciate the wonder, the-- just the joy of, "i'm still here. >> stahl: it was actually joy? >> chris downey: yeah, it was like, "i'm still here with my family. my son still has his dad." >> stahl: you know your eyes are tearing up. you know that. >> chris downey: yeah, sorry. i always have a hard time talking through that. >> stahl: he knew that how he handled this would send a strong message to renzo. >> chris downey: i had been talking with him about the need to really apply himself. at the age of ten, it's that point where if you want something you really have to work at it. and here i am, facing this great challenge. >> stahl: so, motivated to set an example, he headed back to work only one month later. >> bryan bashin: this was the most healthy thing about chris. >> stahl: bryan bashin is executive director of the
non-profit lighthouse for the blind and visually impaired in san francisco, and is blind himself. >> bashin: he waited a few days, until the stitches were out of his skull. and 30 days after brain surgery, he was back in the office thinking, "okay, there's got to be a way to figure this out. and i'm going to figure it out." >> stahl: bashin's organization, the lighthouse, helps people new to vision loss learn how to figure things out. >> bashin: when someone becomes blind, the odds are 99% they've never met another blind person. >> stahl: is that right? >> bashin: yeah, that really is true. blind people need those role models, how to be blind, how to hold down a job, how to live an independent life. >> stahl: specifically, how to work in the kitchen-- safely. how to navigate public transportation. how to use screen reading software to listen to emails as quickly as the rest of us read them.
did you understand that? >> chris downey: yes. >> stahl: no! and most critically, how to get around in the world alone. downey learned that at the lighthouse. when you first crossed a big street like this on your own, was it terrifying? >> chris downey: absolutely terrifying. >> stahl: i can imagine. ( laughs ) i can totally imagine. >> chris downey: i remember that day, stepping off the curb, and it was like, you would have thought i was stepping into raging waters. take a deep breath and go for it. you got to push through it. >> stahl: within a few months, he was travelling the streets on his own and getting back to normalcy with his son. >> chris downey: the first father's day came up. rosa was like, "so, what do you want to do? do you want to go on a picnic, go on a nice lunch? "i want to play baseball." ( laughter ) "with renzo." renzo was like-- he pops up. i could just-- i could feel him, like, jump to the edge of his chair. "baseball, you want to play baseball?" ( laughter ) >> renzo downey: so dad would throw to me, and i'd play like i was playing first base. >> stahl: how could he throw the ball to you?
>> renzo downey: i'd just call out, "i'm over here." and he'd point, and i'd say, "yeah, that's right." and then he'd throw it at me. >> chris downey: that's something i really loved about our relationship. he quickly was looking for possibilities. he wasn't saying, "you can't do that." he was like, "well, why not?" >> stahl: downey seems to have a knack for finding windows when doors slam shut. just nine months after going blind, the recession hit, and he lost his job. but, he got word that a nearby firm was designing a rehabilitation center for veterans with sight loss. they were eager to meet a blind architect. what are the chances? you had to believe that god's hand came down-- >> chris downey: it took my disability and turned it upside down. all of a sudden, it defined unique, unusual value that virtually nobody else had to offer. >> stahl: nobody. >> chris downey: yeah. >> stahl: starting with that
job, downey developed a specialty, making spaces accessible to the blind. he helped design a new eye center at duke university hospital, consulted on a job for microsoft, and signed on to help the visually impaired find their way in san francisco's new, and much delayed, four-block-long transbay transit center, which we visited during construction. >> chris downey: if you're blind, you don't drive. right? they don't like it when we drive. so, you know, we're committed transit users. so the question was, "how on earth do you navigate this size of facility, if you're blind?" >> stahl: his solution: grooves set into the concrete running platfo... hrus followhis, following tgroo >> stahl: ...with a subtle change from smooth to textured concrete, to signal where to turn to get to the escalators. >> chris downey: would you like to give it a try?
>> stahl: okay. i know to go straight because of this line. and i feel-- ( scraping ) oh, my. oh, my. so it's pretty obvious. >> chris downey: i can hear the difference from here. >> stahl: it's something sighted people may never notice-- and that's precisely the point. downey believes in what's called universal design-- that accommodates people with disabilities, but is just as appealing to people without them. it's the approach he used for his biggest project yet, consulting on the total renovation of a new, three-story office space for his old training ground, the lighthouse for the blind. >> bashin: coming into blindness need not be some dreary sociale, more like coming into an apple store-- thinking that there might be something fun around the corner. >> stahl: one of downey's ideas was to break through and link the three floors with an internal staircase that sighted people can see, and the blind can hear.
>> bashin: in blindness, it's so wonderful to be on the 9th floor and hear a burst of laughter up on the 11th floor, or to hear somebody playing the piano on the 10th floor. >> stahl: for the hallways, downey chose polished concrete, because of the acoustics. >> bashin: i can hear the special tap of somebody's cane, or the click of a guide dog's toenails. >> stahl: the click of a guide dog's toenails? >> bashin: yeah, yeah. >> stahl: well, is that good or bad? >> bashin: that's great. it's like you're seeing somebody coming down the hall. i know the sound of individual people who work here by the way they use their cane, or the kind of walk they have. >> stahl: you can really distinguish between people by how they tap their cane? >> bashin: absolutely. >> stahl: if you hadn't had chris working on this building, a blind architect-- >> bashin: it wouldn't have been as rich or so subtle, for sure. >> stahl: spring 2018 marked the ten-year anniversary of downey losing his sight. so what did he do?
he threw a party, a fundraiser for the lighthouse, where he's been student, architect, and now, president of the board. >> chris downey: maybe a slightly bizarre thing, celebrating my ten-year blind birthday. but when you're 55 and you have a chance to be ten again, you take it. >> stahl: i get the feeling that you actually think you're a better architect today. >> chris downey: i'm absolutely convinced i'm a better architect today than i was sighted. >> stahl: if you could see tomorrow, would you still want to be able to feel the design? >> chris downey: if i were to get my sight back, it would be-- i don't know. i would be afraid that i'd-- i'd sort of lose what i've really been working on. i don't really think about having my sight restored. there's-- be some logistical liberation to it. but, will it make my life better? i don't think so. ( ticking )
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( ticking ) >> pelley: we cannot explain what you are about to hear. science just doesn't know enough about the brain to make sense of alma. alma deutscher is an accomplished british composer in the classical style. she is a virtuoso on the piano and violin. and when this story first aired two years ago she was 12 years old.
she's different from other prodigies we have known because at the age of ten, she wrote an opera, which demands comprehensive mastery; not just how to play the piano, but what is the range of the oboe? what can a cellist play? we don't know how she understands it all. it seems alma was born that way. what is your earliest musical memory? >> alma deutscher: i remember that when i was three, and i listened to this really strauss, and that was when i really first realized how much i loved music. and i asked my parents, "but how can music be so beautiful?" >> pelley: do you remember the melody? >> alma deutscher: yes. do you want me to sing it? >> pelley: please. >> alma deutscher: ( sings ) >> pelley: those notes of richard strauss ignited a universe.
at three, alma was playing piano and violin. ♪ ♪ when did the composing begin? >> alma deutscher: when i was four, i just had these melodies and ideas in my head, and i would play them down at the piano. and sometimes my parents would think that i was just remembering music that i'd already heard before, but i said, "no, no, these are my melodies, that i composed." ♪ ♪ it needs to be much more, i think. >> pelley: two years ago, in austria, we watched alma prepare her violin concerto, and the premiere of her piano concerto. joji hattori conducts the vienna chamber orchestra. >> alma deutscher: just the clarinet. >> joji hattori: just the clarinet. >> alma deutscher: what they really want to hear is the violin and the clarinet. ♪ ♪ >> pelley: that night, the soloist was the composer herself.
scales of emotion beyond a child. ♪ ♪ and yet her vision was almost like wisdom. ♪ ♪ do you have any idea where this comes from? >> alma deutscher: i don't really know, but it's really very normal to me to go around... walk around and having melodies popping into my head. it's the most normal thing in the world. for me, it's strange to walk around and not to have melodies popping into my head. so, if i was interviewing you, i would say, "well, tell me, scott, how does it feel like, not having melodies popping into your head?" >> pelley: it's very quiet in my head, i must say. ♪ ♪ but, it appears, never quiet in hers.
look what happened when we took a break from filming at the deutscher home. ♪ ♪ never mind the background noise, that's just the rustle of lunch. this is idle alma. when she has nothing to do, the music flows from its mysterious source as fluently as breath. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ do you feel that there's anything about alma's gift that you don't understand? her parents, guy and janie, are professors. she teaches old english literature, and guy is a noted linguist. both of them are amateur musicians. >> guy deutscher: we don't unnd creat does anyone? i mean, i think that's the crux of the mystery. where does it come from? this melodies popping into your head, it really is a volcano of
imagination. it's almost unstoppable. ♪ ♪ >> pelley: it was guy who taught her how to read music. >> guy deutscher: i thought i was an amazing teacher because, you know, i hardly had to... >> pelley: you thought it was you! >> guy deutscher: i thought it was me. i hardly had to say something. and, you know, her piano teacher once said, "it's a bit difficult with alma. it's difficult to teach her because one always has the sense she'd been there before." >> janie deutscher: she wouldn't be able to imagine life without dreams and stories and music. that's as unimaginable to her as it is strange for other people to think about a little girl with melodies in her head. >> alma deutscher: i love getting the melodies. it's not at all difficult to me. i get them all the time. but then, actually sitting down and developing the melodies and that's the really difficult part, having to tell a real story with the music. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
the story alma tells in her opera is "cinderella," but it's not the "cinderella" you know. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ it seemed demeaning to alma that cinderella was attractive just because her feet were small, so she cast cinderella as a composer, and the prince as a poet. >> alma deutscher: cinderella finds a poem that was composed by the prince, and she loves it, and she's inspired to put music to it. and in the ball, she sings it to the prince. ♪ ♪ i think that it makes much more sense if he falls in love with her because she composed this amazing melody to his poem, because he thinks that she's his soul mate because he understands her. >> pelley: well, people can fall in love with composers. >> alma deutscher: exactly. ( laughter ) >> pelley: i think this may be one of those times. ( cheers and applause ) they fell in love with "cinderella" in its first
production in vienna. there is another composer who had an opera premiere in vienna at the age of 11: mozart. people compare you to mozart. what do you think of that? >> alma deutscher: i know that they mean it to be very nice, to compare me to mozart. >> pelley: it could be worse. >> alma deutscher: of course, i love mozart, and i would have loved him to be my teacher. but i think i would prefer to be the first alma than to be a second mozart. ♪ ♪ >> pelley: in israel, mozart joined alma on stage. she played his piano concerto with a cadenza. in a cadenza, the orchestra stops and the soloist breaks away in music of her own making. ♪ ♪ >> alma deutscher: it's something that i composed because it's a very early concerto of mozart, and the cadenza was very simple. it didn't go to any different keys.
and i composed quite a long one, going to lots and lots of different keys, doing lots of things in mozart's motifs. ♪ ♪ >> pelley: so, you improved the cadenza of mozart? >> alma deutscher: well, yes. ( laughter ) >> robert gjerdingen: it's kind of a comet that goes by, and everybody looks up and just goes, "wow." >> pelley: robert gjerdingen is a professor of music at northwestern in chicago. he has been a consultant to alma's education. >> gjerdingen: i sent her some assignments when she was six, seven, where i expected her to crash and burn because they were very difficult. it came back, it was like listening to a mid-18th century composer. she was a native speaker. >> pelley: a native speaker? >> gjerdingen: it's her first language. she speaks the mozart style. she speaks the style of mendelssohn. >> pelley: and the names that you just mentioned are the ones
that live for centuries. >> gjerdingen: yes. she's batting in the big leagues. and if you win the pennant, there's immortality. ♪ ♪ >> pelley: the route to immortality lead through california. two years ago, opera san jose staged "cinderella" in alma's american debut. she was the belle of the ball, on the piano, organ and violin. >> alma deutscher: the piano music teachers say, "well you must choose the piano." and the violin music teachers say, "oh, you must choose the violin." but anyway, that's better than the piano teacher saying, "you must choose the violin." ( laughter ) >> pelley: yeah, that would be a bad sign. >> alma deutscher: that would be a bad sign, yes. ♪ ♪ >> pelley: fortunately, she doesn't have to choose. this is her composition, "violin concerto number one." ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
>> alma deutscher: it's extremely jolly and very happy and jocular, that movement. i want to make the people who listen to it laugh and be happy. the first movement of the violin concerto is quite the opposite. it's very dark and dramatic. ♪ ♪ >> pelley: what does a girl your age know about dark and dramatic? >> alma deutscher: well, yes, that's an interesting question because, you know what? i'm a very happy person, so i have lots of imaginary composers. and one of them is called antonin yellowsink. >> pelley: antonin yellowsink, friend, isinsighinto theng music of her mind. alma told us that she made up a country where imaginary composers write, each in his own style of emotion.
so, how many composers do you have in your head? >> alma deutscher: i have lots of composers. and sometimes when i'm stuck with something, when i'm composing, i go to them and ask them for advice. and quite often, they come up with very interesting things. >> pelley: even the real world seems magical. the deutscher's moved to the english countryside to be near a famous school of music. alma is privately tutored and home-schooled, alongside her sister helen, who also knows her way around the piano, and the tree house. i usually don't ask people your age this question, but, what have you learned about life? >> alma deutscher: well, i know that... that life is not always beautiful. that there's also ugliness in the world. that's why i... i've learned that i want to write beautiful music, because i want to make the world a bettlace. >> pelley: we cannot know how alma deutscher channels her music like a portal in time.
♪ ♪ but in a world too often ugly and too often overburdened with explanation, it is nice to take a moment, and wonder. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ( applause ) >> pelley: this december, alma will be performing a selection of her original compositions at carnegie hall. ( ticking ) >> alma composes with four notes picked out of a hat. ♪ ♪ go to 60minutesovertime.com ♪ ♪ go to 60minutesovertime.com sponsored by eucrisa.
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