An acclaimed British pianist who suffers from Tourette syndrome has returned to the stage after 15 years. Nick van Bloss’s last performance was in 1994 at the Chopin Festival in Poland, after which he gave in to the overwhelming effects of Tourette’s and retreated to Portugal to play within the solitude of his own four walls.
But now van Bloss is back. Describing Tourette syndrome as the ‘fuel’ for his playing, he is passionate about the crucial role his condition has: ‘A lot of people keep saying I have this exceptional clarity, energy and control,’ says van Bloss in The Times, ‘and I can only say that it is due to Tourette’s. For a few seconds before I start to play, I experience what it is like to feel that wonderful word: normal.’ Though his body is racked with 40,000 tics per day, playing the piano causes the tics to subside. He made his comeback performance at the Cadogan Hall in London, performing with the English Chamber Orchestra.
London-born van Bloss started playing piano at the relatively late age of 11, and went on to study with Yonty Solomon at the Royal College of Music. He first suffered from the effects of Tourette’s at the age of seven, but it was not until the age of 21 that his condition was diagnosed. During his 15 years off the stage van Bloss published an autobiography Busy Body – My Life with Tourette’s Syndrome and appeared in a BBC documentary Mad but Glad, exploring the links between genius and mental illness, in 2007.
To watch a clip from the BBC documentary, click here.