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Derek Paravicini

Born: 1979

Occupation: Autistic savant and a musical prodigy

Challenges overcome: Autism, Blindness and Learning Disability

Successes, Achievements & Awards:

Derek Paravicini was born on 26 July 1979 and lives in London.

Derek is the son of Nicolas Paravicini and Mary Ann Parker Bowles, the former sister-in-law of  Camilla Parker Bowles, who later, by her  marriage to the  Prince of Wales, became the Duchess of Cornwall. He is a great-grandson of author  William Somerset Maugham.  Derek Paravicini was born extremely prematurely, at 25 weeks. His blindness was caused by   oxygen therapy given during his time in a neonatal intensive care unit. This also affected his developing brain, resulting in his severe  learning disability. He also has autism.

Derek has absolute pitch and can play a piece of music after hearing it once. Derek began playing the piano by the age of two when his nanny gave him an old keyboard. His parents arranged for him to attend the Linden Lodge School for the Blind in London. On his introductory visit to the school, in the music room he broke free from his parents, then headed straight for a piano being played, and then pushed the player, Adam Ockelford, aside to take over. Adam Ockelford encouraged him and arranged first weekly and then daily lessons. Aged seven, Derek Paravicini gave his first concert in Tooting Leisure Centre in South London.

In 1989, at the age of nine, Derek Paravicini had his first major public concert at the Barbican Hall in London when he played with the Royal Philharmonic Pops Orchestra. In that year, he appeared on Wogan and was the main subject of a documentary called Musical Savants. He was presented with a Barnardo’s Children’s Champion Award by Diana, Princess of Wales for his performances at age seven and nine. More opportunities followed, including playing at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club.
Derek Paravicini’s first album Echoes of the Sounds to Be was released on 27 September 2006. His official biography, In the Key of Genius by Adam Ockelford, was published in the UK by Hutchinson on 3 May 2007.

Derek was featured on an episode of  Channel 5’s Extraordinary People in an episode titled “The Musical Genius”, which showed his journey to Las Vegas to play in a charity concert with another savant, Rex Lewis-Clack. He was interviewed twice by Lesley Stahl for 60 Minutes. In 2009, he was one of the subjects of the NOVA series’ episode “Musical Minds”, featuring neurologist Oliver Sacks, on PBS. He was featured a second time by 60 Minutes on 14 March 2010. In 2009, he performed for the former Chancellor Alistair Darling, when he unexpectedly played Big Spender.
On 13 May 2010, Derek Paravicini made legal history when the United Kingdom’s last remaining secret court was opened for the first time to discuss his future care. The Court of Protection, which controls the future of adults incapable of managing their own affairs, appointed Paravicini’s family to look after his welfare and commercial future. Until that legal decision was made, the Official Solicitor from the Ministry of Justice had been looking after his affairs, rather than his divorced parents, Nicolas Paravicini and Mary Ann Parker Bowles.

Challenges Overcome

On 26 August 2010, Paravicini was featured on the History Channel’s Stan Lee’s Superhumans. On the show, he was subjected to testing which verified his  savantism and musical ability. After Paravicini improvised at two pianos with the composer Matthew King, for a radio programme made for BBC Radio 4, they collaborated on a new Piano Concerto entitled Blue which was first performed with the Orchestra of St John’s in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London in September 2011. This is believed to be the first concerto ever composed for someone with learning disabilities.

Disability Definitions

Autism

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people.  It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.

Asperger syndrome is a form of autism.  People with Asperger syndrome are often of average or above average intelligence.  They have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulties with understanding and processing language.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autism
www.autism.org.uk
www.autism.org.uk/about-autism/autism

Learning Disability

A learning disability can be mild, moderate or severe. Some people with a mild learning disability can talk easily and look after themselves, but take a bit longer than usual to learn new skills. Others may not be able to communicate at all and have more than one disability

The unknown factor is the disorder that affects the brain’s ability to receive and process information. This disorder can make it problematic for a person to learn as quickly or in the same way as someone who is not affected by a learning disability.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_disability
www.rcn.org.uk

Visually Impaired

Visual impairment (or vision impairment) is a decreased ability to see to a degree that causes problems not fixable by usual means, such as glasses or medication. Eye disorders which can lead to visual impairments can include retinal degeneration, albinism, cataracts, glaucoma, muscular problems that result in visual disturbances, corneal disorders, diabetic retinopathy, congenital disorders, and infection. Visual impairment can also be caused by brain and nerve disorders, in which case it is usually termed cortical visual impairment.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_impairment
www.rnib.org.uk/research‎

Download our Library List for further reading on many of the disabilities featured in this site

Information sources:

Please click on the information links below to find out more.

Derek Paravicini. (2015, May 9). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 13:53, May 15, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Derek_Paravicini&oldid=661564009
www.sonustech.com/paravicini/

 

Image source – Wikicommons

 

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