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João Carlos Martins

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Biography

A child prodigy, Brazilian pianist João Carlos Martins began studying the piano with José Kliass at the age of eight. The following year, he won a competition sponsored by the Bach Society of Brazil. Soon thereafter, the legendary Alfred Cortot proclaimed: "With this kind of tone, with the ability of his fingers, he could become very important for the history of piano playing." At the age of 18, he was among the first Latin Americans to be invited to participate in the prestigious Casals Music Festival in Puerto Rico. International attention grew in 1961 when, at 20, he gave a performance of the 48 preludes and fugues from Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier (a work that later became one of his specialties) in his debut concert in Washington, D.C., During the '60s, he performed as a soloist with major orchestras throughout the United States and Europe. After a soccer injury in 1969, Martins gave up the piano for several years. During that period, he tried a number of other careers, including banking, managing prize fighters, and construction. He eventually returned to the piano, but not to the exclusion of other activities. In 1981, he was named Brazil's Secretary of Culture. Between 1979 and 1998, he devoted himself to recording Bach's complete works for keyboard on the Concord Concerto and Labor Records labels. In the meantime, while visiting Bulgaria, Martins was the victim of a random attack by thugs, receiving injuries to his skull and brain, losing the use of his right arm. Therapy over the next few years brought back much movement, but an operation in early 2000 rendered his hand essentially useless. Instead of retiring completely from the piano, Martins turned to recording the complete repertoire for the left-hand. The series began with a disc of Ravel's concerto, Saint-Saëns' Etudes, and Brahms' transcription of the Bach Chaconne in June 2001.

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Born:

25 June 1940 in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Genre
Years Active:

'60s, '80s, '90s, '00s