30 September 2020
By Ellie Palmer
The 80-year-old Brazilian has suffered from years of injuries during his career, most notably losing the use of his right hand in 2000
Decorated Brazilian pianist João Carlos Martins has certainly had his fair share of unfortunate injuries during his vast playing career.
So when we came across this video of Martins breaking down in tears as he performed Bach wearing his new bionic gloves, we just had to share it with you.
© YouTube / Classe Artística
Martins has dealt with health issues since 1965, when he suffered nerve damage in his arm due to a football injury.
He lost most of the use of his right arm back in 1995 when he was attacked in Bulgaria, resulting in injuries to his skull and brain. Doctors attempted to restore use in his right hand in 2000, but unfortunately the surgery did not go to plan and Martins subsequently lost complete use of it.
For the next few years, he continued performing using just his left hand and one finger in his right.
The 80-year-old Brazilian has suffered from years of injuries during his career. © Marcio De Assis
He turned to conducting for the latter part of his career before retiring in 2019.
His retirement didn't last long.
In December 2019, a Brazilian designer created a pair of bionic gloves for the pianist.
The gloves were designed for Martins by designer Ubiratã Bizarro Costa. The neoprene-covered bionic gloves bump the pianist's fingers upward as they depress the keys, and are held together by a carbon fiber board. Speaking to The Associated Press, Costa comments, "I did the first models based on images of his hands, but those were far from ideal. I approached [Martins] at the end of a concert in my city of Sumaré, in the São Paulo countryside. He quickly noticed they wouldn't work, but then he invited me to his house to develop the project."
The pair spent the next few months testing numerous prototypes. The perfect model was finally created in December 2019 at a cost of just $125.
Martins has returned to playing in his native Brazil.
Talking to The Associated Press, Martins comments, “I might not recover the speed of the past. I don’t know what result I will get. I’m starting over as though I were an 8-year-old learning."
Main image: © Ministério da Cultura