Posted by: rbbadger | August 6, 2010

Ravel, Concerto for the Left Hand

Paul Wittgenstein was a prominent Austrian pianist.  While serving in the military during World War I, he was shot in the elbow and his right arm had to be amputated.  He was still determined, however unlikely it might be, to continue his musical career.  And so he commissioned a series of works for piano, but with left hand alone.  The most famous of these works is Maurice Ravel’s (1875-1937) Piano Concerto for the Left Hand.  It is a very tricky work to play, as the pianist must do as much with one hand as he or she would normally do with two.  This piece is very much in the concert repertoire.  Despite the existence of a version for two hands, it is generally heard in the version for left hand alone. 

Here is a snippet of this hugely appealing work, finished in 1930.  Pierre-Laurent Aimard performs on the piano, accompanied by the Berliner Philharmoniker under the direction of Pierre Boulez.  By the way, Pierre-Laurent Aimard has full use of his right hand.  As one of the foremost interpreters of contemporary music today, Airmard is blessed with abundant virtuosity as well as great artistic temperament. 

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Responses

  1. That’s amazing! Where do you find these things?

  2. I couldn’t even play that with two hands let alone one! That’s crazy!


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