Monday, November 12, 2007
One evening in January 2002, 65-year-old Izumi Tateno was performing the last piece in his piano recital when his right hand began to wobble. The Japanese pianist, now 71, finished the Edvard Grieg piece with his left hand, and collapsed. He was having a stroke that paralyzed the right side of his body.
"In an instant, I lost all the music that I had accumulated inside me for over 60 years," he says.
Mr. Tateno still hasn't gained command of his right hand. But after a long, soul-searching journey, he is back on stage performing dozens of concerts a year. He plays music composed especially for the left hand, sitting on a custom-made bench that stretches across the length of the piano to give his left hand full sweep of the keyboard. He has appeared in several documentaries and has even played a duet with Empress Michiko.
"Many people have told me I should just take it easy," says the tall, soft-spoken Mr. Tateno. "But I am not interested in taking it easy. I don't even know how to. I want to perform as I have done in the past 50 years, so I can share my music with others."
Mr. Tateno's drive to rebuild his career after a late-life illness has resonated in Japan.
Read the full article in the Wall Street Journal.