Behind the scenes: The Case of the One-Armed Pianist

This podcast is the musical companion for “The Case of the One-Armed Pianist“, which is a 25-minute radio documentary for Earshot (Radio National, Australia) produced and directed by Guy Livingston.

You can listen in either order: this podcast is completely independent, and features all the gorgeous music we could not include in Earshot. Meanwhile, the Earshot documentary tells the story of two incredible one-armed pianists, from two centuries and two worlds.

The Case of the One-Armed Pianist: all the music

radio host Guy Livingston presents The Case of the One-Armed Pianist: behind the scenes

The Earshot documentary airs on May 24th, but will be available for streaming online from the 25th. So while you wait, here is the music, plus a BONUS MISSING SCENE!

listen-to-CZ-button now-on-itunes-buttonAMERICAN HIGHWAYS EPISODE #48

(with some cheating, because it’s mostly Russian and British music tonight!)

Paul Wittgenstein’s arm was blown off in the first World War, and his career as a pianist seemed doomed. But against all odds (and helped by his immense family fortune) he overcame his handicap to become the first celebrity one-armed pianist. His repertoire, mostly new, came from Ravel, Britten, and Prokofiev whom he commissioned to write incredible piano concertos for left hand and orchestra.

In this episode of American Highways, pianist Guy Livingston brings us a melodramatic scene from MASH, as well as two immensely moving piano concertos.

The Case of the One-Armed Pianist: Playlist

Theme Music :
Steve Reich. The Desert Music (1984)
First Movement (Fast).
Chorus of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Members of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Michael Tilson Thomas & William Carlos Williams.
Nonesuch Records 79101.

Johnny Mandel/Michael Altman
Theme from M.A.S.H.
All Stars Orchestra
All Stars 10573

Neil Halstead
Wittgenstein’s Arm
Neil Halstead
Brushfire Records B0017128-01

Sergei Prokofiev
Concerto for Piano (left Hand) and Orchestra No. 4
I. Vivace
II. Andante
III. Moderato – Allegro Moderato – Meno Mosso – Andante – Allegro Moderato
IV. Vivace
Boston Symphony Orchestra, Seiji Ozawa, conducting, Leon Fleisher, piano.
Sony Classics 47188

Benjamin Britten
Diversions, Op. 21 for Piano (left Hand) and Orchestra
1. Theme. Maestoso
2. Var. I. Recitative. L’istesso Tempo (Maestoso)
3. Var. II. Romance. Allegretto Mosso
4. Var. III. March. Allegro Con Brio
5. Var. IV. Arabesque. Allegretto
6. Var. V. Chant. Andante Solennemente
7. Var. VI. Nocturne. Andante Piacevole
8. Var. VII. Badinerie. Grave
9. Var. VIII. Burlesque. Molto Moderato
10. Var. IXa. Toccata I. Allegro
11. Var. IXb. Toccata II. L’istesso Tempo – Cadenza. L’istesso Tempo – Andante Come Sopra – (Attaca)
12. Var. X. Adagio
13. Finale – Tarantella. Presto Con Fuoco
Boston Symphony Orchestra, Seiji Ozawa, conducting, Leon Fleisher, piano.
Sony Classics 47188

To find out more about the Case of the One-Armed Pianist, pick up a copy of the amazing and thought-provoking book by Oliver Sachs. One of the chapters is entitled, “The Case of the One-Armed Pianist” and inspired my new documentary for Earshot, which in turn inspired tonight’s podcast. Plus, Heather O’Donnell, one of the featured guests on my documentary for Earshot, has published an article on musician’s injuries, which is a must-read.

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