Two questions about Ravel's Concerto for the left hand

  1. Is this concerto mor often played by left-handed pianists ?

  2. Can a left-handed pianist play this concerto with his right hand ?

I repeated your questions at http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php?board=4.0

Wait a couple of hours and go there to see if it was answered. (I don’t know the answers, but someone there will.) It’s now 3:47 pm EDT.

Good place if your musically inclined.

Come to think of it…

I don’t know if nonmembers can access answers at Piano Street, so I’ll look in every hour or so until we get something.

**First answer:

The Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D major (Concerto pour la main gauche en ré majeur) was composed by Maurice Ravel between 1929 and 1930, concurrently with his Piano Concerto in G Major. It was commissioned by the Austrian pianist, Paul Wittgenstein (brother of the philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein), who lost his right arm during World War I. Wittgenstein gave the premiere with Robert Heger and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra on January 5, 1932. Before writing the concerto, Ravel enthusiastically studied the left-hand études of Camille Saint-Saëns.

thus it is written and intended to be played by left hand only**

My emphasis, above, my comment, below:

What’s intended isn’t always observed, however.

So, I hope to see more replies.

Two informed WAGs:

  1. at the professional performance level, handedness becomes meaningless. Whether someone writes with his/her left or right hand is of no importance when s/he sits down to play something as complex as a piano concerto, or a 2 part invention, for that matter. The skills and demands called upon are totally different - I’d guess from entirely different parts of the brain. I think the question is virtually meaningless, consequently.

  2. The figures written for the left hand - or right hand - by most composers take into account to some degree under some circumstances, the playability of the figures by that hand. In many situations, a passage could be played by either hand, but in other situations, it could only reasonably be played by the left hand, say, or the right hand. Many trills, for instance, that start passages, have to begin with the thumb and first finger or first and second finger. They couldn’t possibly be done by the fourth and fifth finger, which would be called for if the other hand were to play that passage. And Ravel has tons of trills in his music. I imagine that there are several passages in that concerto that lie quite comfortably for the left hand that would be terribly awkward for the right hand, including the very opening phrases. Just picture a pianist having to reach his/her right hand all the way over the body to play runs and figures that begin at the bottom of the keyboard. I haven’t seen the piano score, but I seriously doubt that someone could play it with the right hand.

I asked specifically if a righhand could play that piece for the left. The reply was:

**"sure it could, but this is not the practice

there are a lot of compositions written for single hand playing, both for left or right hand

each of those compositions express an idea of the composer which in m.h.o. should be respected

see the link:

http://pianoeducation.org/pnoonhnd.html"**

That ought to do it, I hope.

. This contradicts somewhat CC’s answer to my question 2), see below, but I don’t want to go into an argument.

Thank you BarnOwl. I did access pianostreet and pianoeducation.

That’s what I thought.

I’m quite satisfied with these clarifications. Thanks CC and BarnOwl.