5 of the best pieces for Piano Left Hand

Pianist Paul Wittgenstein lost his right arm during World War I, but that didn't stop him playing; in fact he went on to commission several new works for left hand only, including one from Ravel which is performed at tonight's Prom...

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5 of the best pieces for Piano Left Hand
Paul Wittgenstein
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5 Pieces for Piano Left Hand...

 

Ravel Piano Concerto for the Left Hand

Premiered by Paul Wittgenstein and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra in 1932, this is just one of several works for the Left Hand that the wealthy Austrian pianist commissioned from big name composers (the list includes Prokofiev, Korngold and Britten). Ravel studied Saint-Saëns's Six Etudes closely before embarking on his own concerto.

 

Bach (Arr. Brahms) Chaconne in D minor

Some say JS Bach's original work was diligently arranged for Left Hand by Brahms for Clara Schumann, following an injury to her right hand. Letters appear to prove otherwise, however, with Schumann referring to the already existing arrangement as a 'glorious refuge' when she was unable to play in July 1877.

 

Britten Diversions

Another Wittgenstein commission, premiered by him with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1942. Britten is said to have given in to requests for alterations, though he later revised the work further so as to make the Wittgenstein version obselete. The work, however, is perhaps one of the greatest shows of virtuosity for piano left hand.

 

Saint-Saëns Six Etudes for the Left Hand

Composed in 1912, this set of Etudes was created especially for Saint-Saëns's friend - and duetting partner - Caroline de Serres, who sustained a debilitating injury to her right hand. An overlooked example of Piano Left Hand repertoire, perhaps; it is said to require a huge amount of dexterity to perform.

 

Bridge Three Improvisations

Frank Bridge composed these works for Douglas Fox, an organist/pianist and fellow comrade during World War I. Fox was badly wounded in battle and lost his right arm, so Bridge set about creating these improvisations for his friend. Worried Fox wouldn't like them, Bridge wrote to him 'I fondly hope they will stand up on their own legs and smile at you.'

 

What's on at the Proms tonight?

 

Prom 28: Saturday 4 August 2018

Mussorgsky (Arr. Rimsky Korsakov) A Night on the Bare Mountain

George Benjamin Dance Figures

Ravel Piano Concerto for the Left Hand

Ligeti Lontano

Debussy La mer

 

Tamara Stefanovich (piano)
National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain/George Benjamin

 

The Prom will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3

 

 

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