The challenges involved in playing the piano to a high level are immense. You need complete control of hundreds of movements in your fingers, concentration for the whole of a piece, musicality in shaping phrases, and so the list goes on. Now imagine that you have to do this with one hand.
With a lot of repertoire requiring two hands, you may think that playing a piano with one hand to a high level is not achievable. However, pianist Nicholas McCarthy has proved this is simply not the case. Born without his right hand, Nick initially wanted to be a chef but then became entranced by classical piano music. In this amazing short interview with the BBC, Nick explains the many challenges that were presented to him by respected learning institutions, a shameful story when you watch how beautifully he plays.
Nick also gives insight to the great deal of one handed piano repertoire that is out there. It came about during the horror of WWI, when pianist Paul Wittgenstein, brother of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, had his right arm amputated after receiving an injury in battle. Paul became determined to continue his career using only his left hand.
In addition to rearranging many pieces from the standard repertoire for one hand, Paul wrote to a whole list of famous composers and asked them to write one handed piano pieces for him. Benjamin Britten, Sergei Prokofiev, Richard Strauss and Maurice Ravel all wrote pieces for him. The music has since become an integral part of all pianists’ repertoire, with many two handed pianists taking up the challenge to perform this beautiful music with one hand.
An inspiring story of perseverance against all odds, please share this story!