December 05, 1977 12:00 PM

Carla Ann Budzian, 10, took first place at the American Music Scholarship Association competition in Cincinnati in June for the second year in a row. One of the three judges, Lorin Hollander, the concert pianist, told her father, Charles, that he was “absolutely nuts” about the Schubert impromptu Carla played. AMSA is the most important competition in the country for pianists under 15 years of age—the minimum age for other musical competitions. “The AMSA is about the biggest thing she can take part in for the next few years,” says her teacher, Dr. Gary Wolf, chairman of the Florida Technological University music department. “But it does give her a strong, systematized, yearly way of developing.” Carla began piano lessons at 3 when her father, a real estate investment broker in Orlando, was looking for something to occupy her time (he had taught her to play chess at 2). “She never practiced less than three hours,” he remembers. At 3 years, 11 months, Carla played her first recital, kneeling on the piano bench so she could reach the keys. A sixth-grader and a member of the student council, Carla enjoys concerts, especially “the final part—when you get the applause.”

Abi Murray was an Israeli-born, unhappy glove salesman in Chicago five years ago. Then, as presents, he made dollhouses for two nieces, and before the paint could dry, he had 10 orders from friends and neighbors. Murray said goodbye to gloves, opened a dollhouse workshop, and now offers customers 20 models to choose from. Fifty dollars will buy a modest two-bedroom Georgian, while $250 provides an English Tudor with seven rooms, dormers and attic. Murray’s custom-built houses begin at $500 and can cost as much as $8,000. “One couple came in to buy a house,” Murray, 26, recalls, “but the husband wouldn’t consider one without a garage. He needed a place to put his miniature Mercedes.” (Murray sells more dollhouses to adults than to children.) His attention to detail is extraordinary. Fireplaces and chimneys are made of real stone or brick, and Plexiglas windows open and close. He wallpapers interiors and covers floors with carpet, parquet, marble or linoleum. His wife, Cheryl, sews tiny curtains. Murray’s dream commission would be to duplicate famous homes—Mount Vernon, the White House—even whole historic streets. “I guarantee my work forever,” Murray says. “That’s why I could never mass-produce.”

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