The pianist who played til her fingers bled

The pianist who played til her fingers bled


norman lebrecht

June 13, 2015

bloodstained piano

photo Chris Slaughter

This is the piano as it was left by Rui Urayama after she played a Bartok sonata at the Cincinnati World Piano Competition this week. You’ll be relieved to hear that Rui got through to the semi-finals.

The piano was sent for treatment.


  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    Why? Normally, one attributes dry skin and cuts due to cold, dry winter weather. (We usually use a moisturizer with gloves over night and drink plenty of water). Many questions here, sorry.

  • Erwin Poelstra says:

    Not “fingers”, but “finger”, in this case her left pinky, it seems. Maybe it can happen when you have relatively short pinkies, in combination with short nails.

  • pooroperaman says:

    ‘A’ Bartok Sonata? There’s only one, unless she was accompanying a violinist, in which she case she should have piped down a bit.

  • Peter Donohoe says:

    Has the photographer – err Mr. Slaughter – nothing better to do than take pictures and make them available to the rest of the world, of something that is, first of all, nothing unusual if you have a split in the skin on one of your fingers (it has happened to me quite often), and, secondly, could be embarrassing to the pianist at a very emotionally vulnerable time?

    • norman lebrecht says:

      She talked about it later, quite unbothered. Said it happens to her often.

    • Jeffrey Biegel says:

      If this is an ongoing syndrome, I wonder if she has a system to perhaps avoid it from getting to this point. Personally, I use krazy glue directly on the area which might become a deep cut, and immediately cover it with thin layers of–no kidding–toilet paper. The thin layer(s) of paper create a layer of protection and dries rather quickly. I used to use New Skin with the soft tip of a cotton swab or thin layer of a cotton ball. But the cotton became too hard when mixed with the New Skin which created a hardness which interfered with contact on the piano keys. The drop or so of krazy glue covered with thin layers of paper worked best–and still does.

  • Andrew Eales says:

    Well said Peter. But incredibly it was one of the competition judges – a Mr. Frank Weinstock – who circulated these photos. Apparently as a publicity stunt, because tickets for the competition final hadn’t sold out this year. Shocking.

  • CDH says:

    If it happens to her often it must be costing someone a fortune in sending away pianos to be treated.

  • robcat2075 says:

    That sonata must be in a sharp key.

  • J. Marc Reichow says:

    … with the funny detail (if you like) that Bartók’s Sonata (“in E major”, as he calls it in 1927), transgresses the lowest standard keyboard range well into the woodlands for three times, in the 2nd movement.

    An unlikely passage for hurting your pinkie, though.