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By Emily J. Minor
His mother knows when he’s up to something.
He’s up later, perhaps past 11 or so on a school night, and he’s distracted at the dinner table — if he appears at all.
He abandons the computer and the soccer ball and small talk on the ride to school.
And she hears that piano, the one in his upstairs bedroom, the faint tinkle of the keys keeping her motherly ears in the ready position when perhaps she’d much rather be falling off to sleep.
“He’s totally on a different planet,” says Rebecca Arcaini. “Everything makes me crazy.”
Anthony Arcaini might be just 14 years old. But he is One Of Those Kids who has a purpose and holds promise and, quite possibly, already knows what he wants to do with his life.
Indeed, there’s a very good chance that he’s already doing it.
Arcaini — an eighth grader at Gulf Stream School — is a pianist and a conductor who composes music. Amazing music. But the beautiful thing about this boy is you don’t need season tickets to the symphony to appreciate what he creates.
Any goofball can tell you it’s magnificent.
“It’s what I’m going to be doing for a living,” he says.
Arcaini’s mother is German and Austrian. His father, Tonio, is Italian and works mostly overseas. His great-great-great grandfather composed church music. His great-grandfather was a professor of the cello. Yet neither of Anthony’s parents plays an instrument.
But there it was, always, the Steinway piano in the hall of whatever house they were calling home. Anthony says he was 5 years old when he played for the first time.
And his mother knew.
It wasn’t going to be chess. It wasn’t going to be karate. It wasn’t going to be Little League baseball that would keep her son grounded.
It was going to be music, amazing music, full of stories and emotion.
He was 9 years old when he wrote his first movement, inspired by the woods outside his grandmother’s home in Tuscany. Anthony, his brother and his two sisters spend most summers overseas with their parents.
“It’s like a forest,” he says, about the grounds around his grandmother’s house. “That’s what we call it.”
And he heard a call in the forest and then the animals, running, and his mind went to work. And once they were home, young Anthony composed his first piece, The Beautiful Garden, on the family’s small Steinway. It was dedicated to his grandmother.
Since then, he’s continued with everything that makes Anthony Anthony. He speaks three languages fluently: English, German and Italian. He’s half-fluent in Spanish and French and his Russian is getting better. He likes to play soccer and tennis and the occasional round of golf with his father.
But, mostly, it is the music.
“When he is writing the music he only wants to be with the music,” says his mother.
He’s now studying with a prominent conductor at the University of Miami, and has two renowned mentors overseas — one Italian, one Russian. Over the summer, he performed two concerts: one in Bologna, Italy, to benefit the survivors of the April earthquake. The other was before Italy’s Prince Philip, who was the first to rise for the standing ovation. (Then he walked right over to shake Anthony’s hand.)
Perhaps it is because of all of this — not to mention Arcaini’s mop of curly hair — that the Italian press has taken to calling him “the new Mozart.”
This bothers the young musician.
“He’s like …,” says Arcaini, unable to finish even a short sentence about the great Mozart.
After all, right now Anthony Arcaini is simply Anthony Arcaini — a kid who goes to school, squabbles with his siblings, and keeps his mother awake at night creating beautiful music when he very well should be sleeping.