Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Joao Carlos Martins

Or: how much bad luck can a genius have?

Did you ever hear this man play piano? You should! Absolutely incredible.

I think born in Brasil, 1940 - i missed the beginning of this extreme documentary- the young boy Joao had a strange infection in his throat, so he had to go to hospital every week for a nasty stinge; and he couldnt play outside, with the other boys. So his parents thought we should buy a piano, give the boy something to do. By the time he was 10, they had 7 (seven) piano's in their home. Three in the living room, and 4 sons had each their own : pretty lucky family he?
So, the boys played like in competition; for instance they had to practise one new number each day and play that for their father.
But Joao was far out the best, although his brothers werent bad either.
When he was 18 Joao Carlos won big prizes, and MAN listen to him in 1958! They showed only short footage from that Concours, it was Unbelievable. That guy played Bach and Chopin as if he was Theloneus Monk! With a sort of intensity and power I have simply never heard from a 'classical' pianist.
OK great, so he moved to New York and got very famous (while you were listening to the Beatles, wehh!), he played all major orchestras and conductors. Being a Brasilian he kept playing (soccer) football every saturday afternoon.
And then in 1964 or so, he got a little, tiny pebble stone against JUST the junction of his elbow, and a nerve was damaged. Well, he showed how smal that pebble was, and it's unbelievable what big damage such can do. He had to do fysiotherapy for 4 years, and stopped playing pro...

After 4 years he made a come back at Carnegie hall, people were outrageous; the longest standing ovation they ever measured there. People in NYC usually don't have time to clap their hands for more than 1 minute... :)
Right after that, Joao had a stroke! His whole right arm disfunctioned... I can tell you from experience, you can't play Bach after a stroke! So he quit again, became manager of a factory, and hated life!

Years and Years he spent coming back and he did!
After all this misery he made 40 cd's with all keyboard works by J.S. Bach, and it is incredible stuff... I cannot compare to anything I heard.
And now (in 2001) during the making of this film ( a must see!) he's terribly suffering from RSI, from all that practising!
If you saw that farewell concert he gave, playing with a piece of elastic around his right hand, bending 2 finger to his handpalm and playing! Playing! Like Virtuoso! Absolutely Posessed!

Posessed by music! Fantastic!


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