Pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii bursts into tears when he plays at Carnegie Hall his own composition “Elegy for the Victims of the Tsunami of March 11, 2011 in Japan”.
Nobuyuki Tsujii was born blind but with a talent for music. At the age of two, he began to play “Do Re Mi” on a toy piano after his mother had been humming the tune. He began his formal study of piano at the age of four. In 1995, at the age of seven, Tsujii won the first prize at the All Japan Music of Blind Students by the Tokyo Helen Keller Association. In 1998, at age ten, he debuted with the Century Orchestra, Osaka. He gave his first piano recital in the small hall of Tokyo’s Suntory Hall at age 12. Subsequently, he made his overseas debut with performances in the United States, France, and Russia. In October 2005, he reached the semifinal and received the Critics’ Award at the 15th International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition held in Warsaw, Poland.
In April 2007, Tsujii entered Ueno Gakuen University, graduating in March 2011.
Tsujii competed in the 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and tied for the gold medal with Haochen Zhang. He was also awarded the Beverley Taylor Smith Award for the best performance of a new work. He played all twelve of Frédéric Chopin’s Op. 10 Études as part of his performance in the preliminaries.
He was one of the competitors prominently featured in the Peter Rosen documentary film about the 2009 Van Cliburn competition, “A Surprise in Texas”, which was first broadcast on PBS TV in 2010.
In addition to being a pianist, Nobuyuki Tsujii is a composer. At age 12, he performed his own composition “Street Corner of Vienna.” He has since released numerous albums of his own compositions. He is a film music composer, and the 2011 recipient of the Japan Film Critics Award for Film Music Artist.
On November 10, 2011, Nobuyuki Tsujii made a debut recital in the main hall (Isaac Stern Auditorium) at Carnegie Hall in New York, as part of the Keyboard Virtuosos II series. Tsujii debuted at the BBC Proms on July 16, 2013 with a performance with the BBC Philharmonic and conductor Juanjo Mena.
Nobuyuki Tsujii is featured in a 2013 English textbook for high schools in Japan.
A 2014 film Touching the Sound, also by Peter Rosen, documents Nobu’s life from birth to Carnegie Hall, including footage of his visit to the region in Japan that suffered the devastating aftermath of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
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