The pianist who played til her fingers bled

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.

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  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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?

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • … 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.

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