News Classical 06/09/2017

Antonio Domingos - The Musician Who Lost Everything But Fought Back To Become A World Record-Breaking Pianist

New York, NY (Top40 Charts) Antonio Domingos seemingly had everything to look forward to - European orchestras inviting him to perform with them as a soloist; a plush new pad in a glitzy European capital on offer. It seemed like his childhood dream of becoming a world-famous concert pianist was only a step away...when it came crashing down. Left with nothing, Antonio had two options - the rubbish heap or a Herculean turn around which would defy belief. He chose the latter, and Domingos is today recognised by Guinness World Records for having achieved the most piano key hits in one minute (on one key).

Watch Antonio break the world record here:
Domingos' record breaking effort has so far been viewed on Youtube over an incredible 436,000 times - a figure which triples when taking into account Facebook views - seeing him hit the key a finger-frying 824 times in one minute. Even more staggering are his superhuman recitals of some of the most technically difficult pieces ever written for solo piano- stunts which he warns amateur musicians against attempting to perform, lest they run the risk of serious injury to their hands. He is the self-appointed Extreme Pianist - but that only tells half the story.

Born in Pittsburgh in 1977, Antonio Domingos displayed all the signs of being a musical child prodigy, and by his teens, his parents were very eager to allow their son to have every opportunity to develop these skills. Moving the family to Moscow, home to some of the most prestigious conservatories in the world, the relocation proved far from glamorous. From endless bureaucratic red tape, to their home-life in some of the most dangerous, crime-ridden, drug-seeping pores of the city, what seemed an unimaginable existence for just a few months became a living hell for ten years. Though he achieved the highest possible grades to pass his exams, Antonio's trials were only just beginning.

Antonio left Moscow to settle in Portugal, his talent being seized upon by whom the musician only refers to as "benefactors". His new acquaintances agreed to look after both his financial and logistical requirements and very soon, Antonio found himself plastered across newspapers nationwide, his musical prowess heralded as "a revelation" in magazines and on television. Just when life looked as if it could get no didn't. In fact, his benefactors had conspired to make Antonio little more than their slave; their demands on him being such that his mental and physical health were utterly drained. Seeing little option, Antonio rid himself from their clutches, only to find his career was to plummet like a stone.

With no backing, the work dried up almost instantly - he resorted to entering piano competitions to make ends meet, only to find that he was eliminated at the earliest possible stages: his uncompromising, very individual style of playing invariably being censored by the judges, who already had a reputation for accepting nothing but the strict, generic formulae all entrants were expected to conform to.

Metaphorically and literally, he went from sitting at grand pianos at the Portuguese Parliament to models which had, politely, seen better days, all the time applying for scholarships and festival positions, only to receive apologies at best. It would take a bizarre, yet inspired decision to reverse his fortunes. Antonio decided that there was only one way to combat criticisms of his piano playing - he would have to beat every single pianist in the world at something that could be objectively and indisputably measured - SPEED and ENDURANCE in piano-playing. Antonio himself continues the story:

"That's when the idea behind the Youtube channel "extremepianochannel" was born. Unfortunately, I was forced to sell my only piano, a Steinway cabinet grand, and, using the proceeds from its sale, purchase much cheaper ones, a daunting task, since it was very difficult to find pianos that were both of decent quality and had an action that was light and efficient enough for me to accomplish my intended technical feats. After three long years of waiting -during more than eighteen months of which I didn't even have a piano in my home-, plus five trips abroad, the purchase and sale of three pianos, and battling a plethora of other obstacles along the way, I have managed to record a video of Chopin's 'Revolutionary' Etude, played in octaves, thirds, and sixths, instead of in single notes, as Chopin had originally written it (read the description under the video for more details):
I also managed to pull off one of the most notoriously difficult of Chopin's Etudes, namely op.10,#2, in 60 seconds, as a response to a challenge that had been circulating on the Internet for quite a while, thus possibly setting an (unofficial) world speed record:
Bear in mind that the 'Revolutionary in Octaves' stunt could arguably well be the most difficult and physically challenging musical composition ever performed on a piano, containing possibly the longest marathon of fast octaves in recorded history. To my knowledge, I am the only pianist in history to have made a video recording of this feat at the correct speed".

Antonio Domingos - perhaps the fastest, most technically skilled pianist in the world today.


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