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‘Magic’ gloves give former musician chance to perform again, 12 years after retiring: 'I won't give up'

Katie Mather
·2-min read

Renowned pianist João Carlos Martins had been considered one of the great interpreters of Johann Sebastian Bach’s music and was critically acclaimed all over the world for his talent, until pains started shooting up in his hands.

Martins was experiencing the side effects of a degenerative disease and a series of accidents. He underwent surgery 24 times to stop the pain and save his hands.

“After I lost my tools, my hands, and couldn’t play the piano, it was if there was a corpse inside my chest,” Martins told the Associated Press.

Then, thanks to the miracle of modern technology, Martins received a pair of bionic gloves that allowed him to play again. The designer of the gloves, Ubiratã Bizarro Costa, thought that it was devastating for the music world that Martins had to retire "too early."

The neoprene-covered gloves bump Martins’ fingers upward after they depress the keys.

In a video of Martins playing with the gloves, he gets visibly emotional. The 79-year-old has worked as a conductor since the early 2000s, but now he can play with nine out of 10 fingers while wearing the "magic" gloves, the AP reported.

Now Martins says he never takes off his gloves, even when going to bed.

“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,” he said. "Sometimes I try to play a speedy one and get depressed because it just doesn’t happen yet.”

But Martins won't give up and was described by friends and neighbors as "like a boy who got a new toy." He practices mornings and nights.

“It could take one, two years. I will keep pushing until that happens,” he said. “I won’t give up.”

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