Paravicini’s Accidental Virtuosity

Our third guest blogger is Jake Evans from the bluegrass/country swing band called The Stillhouse Orchestra. Many thanks, ed Jake! – Nadya


Virtuosity is one of those terms so overused as to have lost much of its meaning. The word is all too often misapplied to mere technical prowess, impressive though that may be. Derek Paravicini is a pianist for whom the word could have been coined, playing with a firecracker passion that speaks to something primal in the human spirit, right in the heart of where music itself originates. When Paravicini plays, the listener gains a sense of a person driven by the core of his nature; born to it, as it were.

Paravicini was born on 26th July 1979, fifteen weeks premature and weighing less than half a kilo. His twin sister died at birth. As a result of the relative crudity of medical knowledge at the time, the oxygen levels in Derek’s incubator were too high, which left him blind and with severe autism. Derek Paravicini cannot tell left from right, yet he can play Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee note perfect from memory. In fact he remembers every one of the thousands of pieces he has heard in his lifetime, but struggles to count to ten.

Part 1 of the occasionally excellent Five TV Extraordinary People episode about Derek after the jump.