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Nobuyuki Tsujii – blind pianist winning the Van Cliburn in 2009

27 Feb

Nobuyuki Tsujii is 24 years old.

In 2009 (at the age of 20) he won the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition with this performance of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody.




And he has been blind since birth. He learns by ear.



Here are some of the accolades bestowed upon him:


Van Cliburn himself said:
“He was absolutely miraculous. His performance had the power of a healing service. It was truly divine”
2009 Van Cliburn Competition Juror Richard Dyer, a chief music critic for The Boston Globe:
“Very seldom do I close my notebook and just give myself over to it, and he made that necessary. I didn’t want to be interrupted in what I was hearing.”
Scott Cantrell in his review of the 2009 Van Cliburn competition for The Dallas Morning News wrote:
“It’s almost beyond imagining that he has learned scores as formidable as Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto and Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata by ear…Through all three rounds, he played with unfailing assurance, and his unforced, utterly natural Chopin E-Minor Piano Concerto was an oasis of loveliness.”
John Giordano, music director and conductor of Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra who was jury chairman for the Cliburn competition:
“He’s amazing. We closed our eyes and it’s so phenomenal that it’s hard to withhold your tears. Nobu played the most difficult hour-long Beethoven piece (Hammerklavier, Sonata no. 29) flawlessly. For anyone, it’s extraordinary. But for someone blind who learns by ear, it’s mind-boggling.


And he does all of this without any visual reference.



Also from the ’09 Van Cliburn


Chopin Twelve Etudes, Op.10


Beethoven Sonata in B-flat major, Op. 106, “Hammerklavier”


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