Pianist Derek Paravicini understands music systematically. Once a child prodigy, he’s matured into a creative musician, able to reimagine songs in ways few can.

Why you should listen

Derek Paravicini weighed half a kilogram when he was born, prematurely at just 25 weeks. Growing up blind and with severe autism, Paravicini had trouble communicating, but was fascinated by sound. He began teaching himself how to play the piano and, by 4-years-old, had taught himself an incredible catalogue of songs that he played with unusual technique. Soon, Paravicini began studying with Adam Ockelford, a teacher at the Linden Lodge School for the Blind in London, who saw in him the marks of a highly inventive musician. Paravicini gave his first concert at age 7 and, two years later, played the Barbican Hall.

Now in his thirties, Paravicini has continued to grow as a performer, with the ability to reimagine complex pieces of music even after only hearing them once. He was featured in the series Extraordinary People in the United Kingdom and, in the United States, on Stan Lee's Superhumans, which verified his musical ability and confirmed his savantism. Paravicini has also worked with composer Matthew King. The two have played improvised pieces on BBC Radio and collaborated on Blue, the first concerto ever composed for someone with learning impairment.

Derek Paravicini’s TED talks

Derek Paravicini on the TED Blog

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Further reading (and watching) on autism

August 9, 2013

Derek Paravicini is many things: an incredible piano player, a blind man, an excited talker, a musical savant, and a 30-something with severe autism. In today’s TED Talk, we get a fascinating peek into how he understands music. Paravicini — who was playing major concert halls at the age of 10 — not only has […]

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