In 2006 I began seriously exploring the genre of piano music written for the left hand
alone, and in 2007 began playing recitals entirely of music for the left hand alone. Since
that time, each year has brought more bookings and opportunities to perform not only solo
recitals, but chamber music and concertos written for the left hand alone. I have
particularly enjoyed seeing the skepticism and sideways glances from those not familiar
with the genre, replaced by amazement and appreciation for the brilliant and fulfilling
music to which they have been introduced.
As much as I have enjoyed developing my career in this direction, I must admit to feeling
like an island unto myself. But with the wonders of the internet, I have been able to find
and connect with other pianists interested left hand piano music. Unlike the abundant
world of two-handed pianists, there are very few of us, and we are scattered to all corners
of the globe. I have often longed for a way to get us all together, in one location, to share
our experiences, knowledge, and passion of left hand piano music; and to find ways to
bring this rarely heard music to the awareness of music-lovers and concert-goers.
The Leftitude Festival is like a dream come true for me! What a fantastic opportunity to
bring pianists together who play music from this genre, and share it with others. I must
admit that in my “fantasy festival”, it would not have occurred to me to expand the
repertoire to include jazz, as Robert Mitchell’s brilliant vision has done. With music dating
from the late 19th c., through the 20th century, as well as newly written music, and jazz,
the Leftitude Festival offers something for nearly everyone to enjoy, and the opportunity to
discover worlds of wonderful music.
Geza Zichy (1849-1924) and Paul Wittgentein (1887-1961) were the first pianist to make
careers entirely of left hand alone performances; in current times, Gary Graffman, Leon
Fleisher, Nicholas McCarthy, and myself, are among the few who have crafted left hand
alone careers. Two-handed pianists such as Marc-Andre Hamelin, Clare Hammond, and
Robert Mitchell have made left hand alone music an important part of their concert and
recording repertoire. All of these pianist have been significant sources of inspiration for
newly written music for the left hand. But, to my knowledge, Leftitude is the first and only
festival devoted entirely to left hand piano music. This is a thrilling achievement, and the
start of something truly unique and wonderful. I eagerly look forward to the Leftitude
Festival, and hope that it is the first of many!