Ravel – Piano Concerto for the Left Hand – Music | History
The Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D major 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, who lost his right arm during World War I. The Concerto had its premiere in January 1932, with Wittgenstein as soloist performing with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.
The piece was commissioned by Paul Wittgenstein, a concert pianist who had lost his right arm in the First World War.
In preparing for composition, Ravel studied several pieces written for one-handed piano, including Camille Saint-Saëns’s Six Études pour la main gauche (Six Études for the Left Hand) (Op. 135), Leopold Godowsky’s transcription for the left hand of Frédéric Chopin’s Etudes (Opp. 10 and 25), Carl Czerny’s Ecole de la main gauche (School of the Left Hand) (Op. 399), 24 études pour la main gauche (Op. 719), Charles-Valentin Alkan’s (Op. 76 No. 1), and Alexander Scriabin’s Prelude and Nocturne for the Left Hand (Op. 9).
Wittgenstein gave the premiere with Robert Heger and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra on 5 January 1932; Ravel had first offered the premiere to Arturo Toscanini, who declined.
The first French pianist to perform the work was Jacques Février, chosen by Ravel.