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Otakar Hollmann

Otakar Hollmann

Besides Paul Wittgenstein the Czech pianist Otakar Hollmann was probably the most important pianist of the 20th century to play only with his left hand. Like Wittgenstein he was injured during the first World War though less radically (not loosing an arm totally) but equally seriously for a pianist.  He was hit by a bullet which went through his palm injuring his metacarpus of the right hand. See below.

Hollmann was born in Vienna, 29.01.1894 and already as a child he took lessons in violin playing with K. Baumgarten - then a teacher of renown in Vienna. At the same time (1913) he finished his studies at the local Grammar School but when war was declared he was called up and during this he was wounded. After the war he moved to Prague to become a piano student og Adolf Mikas with whom he stayed until 1924 when he decided upon a career as a left hand pianist - maybe inspired by Paul Wittgenstein but without his economic means; during many of his years of study he supported himself by working as a bank accountant (1922-1926). Already in 1915 he had published a piano composition Five Piano Pieces (supplement to Lidove noviny, Hawkes) and from 1925 to 1926 he took lessons studied composition with Vitezslav NovŠk.
Vitezslav NovŠk

He made his debut as left-hand pianist at the concert of the Society for Contemporary Music Music in Prague the 26. April 1927, and after that he appeared at the many concerts abroad as a highly acclaimed pianist (Austria, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria). He also performed the original left-handed piano pieces by Bach, Reger, Britten, Ravel, Skrjabin at a concert in Paris (12. May 1930). He stimulated some new Czech piano music for left hand, and most of the works were dedicated to him (by Jaroslav Tomasek, Vitezslav Kapral, Erwin Schulhoff, Bohuslav Martinů, Leos Janacek, Stanko Rajcic, J.B.Foerster, Jaroslav Ridky, Josef Bartovsky, Ales Jermar, Vincenc Stastny and others). The Capriccio for left hand by Janacek and the Sonata op. 7 by Jaroslav Tomasek was recorded on the SP records. He retired since 1955. In 1915 he published a piano composition Five piano pieces (supplement to Lidove noviny, Hawkes).



The metacarpus consists of five cylindrical bones form the connection between the wrist and the fingers.