Young Achievers

13-year-old pianist, Lydian Nadhaswaram, wins ‘The World’s Best’.

Lydian Nadhaswaram holding up The World's Best trophy

Ask Lydian Nadhaswaram what a PlayStation is and chances are he won’t know what it is. While kids his age are glued to mobile phone games and other distractions like social media, the 13-year-old spends his time playing the piano, practising for almost six hours at a time. This dedication and focus on music has earned him ‘The World’s Best’ title at a reality talent show in the USA, winning US$1 million (Rs 6,90,12,500 crore).

Lydian Nadhaswaram and his father, Varshan Satish, with The World’s Best host James Corden and (from l to r) judges RuPaul Charles, Drew Barrymore and Faith Hill.

When asked what were his expectations when he entered the reality show ‘The World’s Best’, Lydian (we featured Lydian in TTT, March 2018) said that he just practised the Flight Of The Bumblebee (by composer Rimsky Korsakov, known to be difficult owing to its chaotic and rapidly changing tune like that of a bumblebee’s flight) for the first round (audition round). “I really had no plans and only after going there and seeing how the show was done did I plan and practise. I knew the tune and only once I was there did I learn the arrangements and played it. I did this in just half an hour.” The kid impressed everyone with his phenomenal act and won everyone’s heart. He stunned the judges — Faith Hill, RuPaul Charles and Drew Barrymore and 50 other judges at the contest by playing this piece in three speeds — 160 bpm, 280 bpm and 325 bpm.

Lydian has made India proud with his achievement defeating South Korea’s Kukkiwon, the Flying Taekwondo Masters, with 84 points and won the show with his mere talent. Lydian gave an exceptional performance in the second round also known as the battle round, when he played the Turkish March blindfolded!

His father adds excitedly, “When he got the World’s Best shield, he just gave it to me as it was too heavy for him to hold. Later, he told me that this is the day and the moment he was waiting for.”

Legendary music maestro A. R. Rahman congratulated the young talent with a personal visit to his home in Saligramam (Chennai). Lydian, who learnt music at A. R. Rahman’s K.M. Music Conservatory in Chennai on a full-scholarship, was also mentored by the legendary musician.

Lydian credits his father Varshan Satish who has sacrificed a lot for his career to see him reach where he is today. “My father is also a musician and plays the flute, he composes and also sings, plays the keyboard. He cares a lot for me and my sister, and also advises me on a lot of things.”

Lydian says that he listens to music on YouTube and spends time going through music software. “Along with my sister, I experiment a lot and we compose our own music,” says the mini maestro. The prodigy can play blindfolded; handle two pianos simultaneously, apart from being adept at playing the guitar, drums and mridangam.

Though he does not watch much of television, his fond love of YouTube made him aware of a lot of Hollywood movies. “I recently picked up a movie from YouTube, then muted the sound and created my own audio. It was fun,” he said. Citing an example, he said he had tried this experiment with the animated film Storks. Presently, he is investing time on the technical side, learning skills such as mixing, sound systems and hopes to release an independent album globally.

What about the prize money, we quiz him. “I have no plans to touch it as my father knows better what to do with it.”

As for the future, Lydian dreams of becoming a music composer in Hollywood. “I want to do an animation film and I also want to play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata on the moon,” he signs off.

Watch Lydian’s first round performance at this link:

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Verus Ferreira is a music journalist for over three decades. He is the author of The Great Music Quiz Book and The Great Rock Music Quiz Book and the founder of

Verus Ferreira

Verus Ferreira is a music journalist for over three decades. He is the author of The Great Music Quiz Book and The Great Rock Music Quiz Book and the founder of