JoÃ£o Carlos Martins was enjoying a brilliant career as a concert pianist, with performances atÂ prestigious venues such as New Yorkâ€™s 2,800-seater Carnegie Hall, when disaster struck. Asports injury damaged a nerve in his right hand and, at the age of 28, he had to accept that heÂ had lost the ability to play perfectly â€“ even though at an emotional level he still longed to play.Â He sold all his pianos and reinvented himself, somewhat bizarrely, as a boxing entrepreneur.
While watching the boxers, he was inspired by how they kept fighting despite adversity and hardÂ knocks. He told himself: â€˜I am a coward; I gave up too easily and now Iâ€™m no longer giving theÂ best of myselfâ€™.Â So he quietly bought back his pianos and began practising again. He found that, by adapting hisstyle of play, he could still produce mesmerising music. After five years, he called his formerÂ agent and suggested a comeback. With a feeling of fear and hope, Carnegie Hall was againÂ booked.Â On the day of the comeback performance, he took a taxi to Carnegie Hall.
The traffic was muchÂ worse than usual and the taxi driver said: â€˜I have no idea who is playing tonight but heâ€™s surepacking out the whole place!â€™. That night was the greatest of Martinsâ€™ life, as the New YorkÂ audiences welcomed him back with ovation after ovation.Â Martins received a recording contract to play all the works of J. S. Bach. But while working onÂ this, disaster struck again. Street thieves mugged him for the sake of his wallet; they hit himÂ over the head with an iron bar. The brain damage affected his playing and forced him to quit.
During a dream he felt that he was told to become a conductor. So, at the age of 64, he took hisÂ first lesson in how to conduct an orchestra. His musical talent allowed him to make rapidÂ progress â€“ and he forged yet another career out of adversity.Â Today, as well as conducting top orchestras, he reaches out to others who are strugglingÂ against adversity â€“ to the poor of Brazil who live in slums. Through a Foundation, Martins isÂ aiming to create 1,000 string orchestras throughout the favelas.Â Martins told at a gathering recently: â€œBefore everything, I love life!â€
He then showed his love of life andÂ music by playing a wonderfully emotionally piece of music, with the few fingers that still obey theÂ commands of his brain. And as so often before, he received a standing ovation.