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date: 25 July 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the convergence of disability and virtuosity in competitive music performance. Two case studies of the pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii performing Beethoven’s Apassionata and Hammerklavier sonatas in the 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition illustrate how the virtuosic body renders both normal and disabled bodies as other within the competitive arena. The critical and popular reception of these performances by Tsujii made much of their staging of a musical encounter between a blind pianist and a deaf composer; Tsujii himself, on the other hand, has publicly declared a more complex relationship to Beethoven as a fellow disabled musician. Exploring blindness and deafness as forms of virtuosity, this chapter shows how musical representations of virtuosity in performance exist in unfixed, dynamic, and even unsettling relationships to normal and disabled senses, bodies, and minds.

Keywords: able-bodiedness, disability, competition, music performance, normative, virtuosic body

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