Friday, April 04, 2014

Paul Wittgenstein: The man with the golden arm

Many classical music lovers will have heard of Paul Wittgenstein (Unknown photographer - BFMI, CC BY 3.0 nl), the man who commissioned such famous works for piano left hand only as Ravel's second piano concerto and Prokofiev's fourth. He had lost his right arm on the Russian front in 1914 - which did not stop him pursuing a career as pianist. The linked article gives a lot of information on this character, who was not always pleasant - for instance, he disallowed others to play pieces he commissioned even if he disliked them so much that he would never play them himself. A famous case is the aforementioned Prokofiev concerto, of which he said: “Thank you for the concerto, but I do not understand a single note in it, and I will not play it.” Recommended reading if you are into classical music.

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