Derek Paravicini is blind. She suffers from autism and severe learning difficulties caused by her premature birth at just 25 weeks’ gestation. He can’t read, not even braille, not even sheet music. But this 41-year-old man is a musical marvel: just once he listens to a melody, he is able to replicate it without further ado, and forever. His gifts have made him a famous concert performer, a certain internet star (his talk Ted accumulates more than 1.1 million views on YouTube) and also has a discreet video channel on this platform with just over 22,000 subscribers. But now the life and history of this Briton who has come to be nicknamed “the human iPod” and who is the nephew of Camilla de Cornwall, the wife of Prince Charles of England, is about to take an exponential leap when it becomes a film.
The screenwriter will be David Seidler (The king’s speech), which according to the British press is preparing a project based on the life of Paravicini and specifically on a book about him, In The Key Of A Genius, The Extraordinary Life of Derek Paravicini, written in 2008 by musical teacher Adam Ockelford. Ockelford himself has confirmed the existence of the project to the newspaper The Daily Mail, explaining that Seidler is based in New York and he is in the United Kingdom, so they are having video calls. The film will “focus on Derek’s childhood, between the ages of five and ten, because that’s where the key to the story lies,” says the author.
Ockelford himself was Paravicini’s teacher in his childhood. According to him, in 1985, while giving a piano class in a school for the blind in south-west London, a boy who was visiting the center with his parents ran to the instrument, pulling him to the girl who was playing it, and he started playing wildly. It was Derek. “He started pounding on the keys, with his elbows and fists. At first I thought he was a nut, but suddenly I understood that he was playing Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, and also went up and down the keyboard more to make more scales. Then I knew he was not a madman, but a genius, “he told the British newspaper The Independent. According to his biographer and teacher for 25 years, Paravicini is a sage, who can identify and then retain all the notes of a musical theme. “He has thousands of pieces in his repertoire,” he said. “I’ve never heard anyone play like him, he can listen to a song once and then play it perfectly.” In fact, he says that his success is that, through improvisation and his prodigious memory, he even improves it.
When he was just two years old, little Derek started playing a toy organ. Her mother, Mary Ann, has recounted that she instinctively performed nursery rhymes and songs she heard on television shows. His father, Nicolas, explained that he played with his elbows, even his nose, and that he is capable of reproducing a song he learned two decades ago. “He retains everything he hears,” he told a Sydney, Australia newspaper when Paravicini gave a concert there in 2010, although he has also explained that his short-term memory is very fragile. “It is a great compensation for their problems. He loves people and interacting with them through music, playing for them ”.
Since the age of nine, Paravicini has given concerts in different auditoriums; the first was at the well-known Barbican Center in London, and he has also played in Downing Street for prime ministers of his country, in Las Vegas or at Buckingham Palace. He does not charge for his recitals, and everything goes to charities. This is despite the fact that he needs constant care, first from his parents and now from specialized personnel who help him eat, dress or wash. He lives in a residential center governed by the Royal British Institute for the Blind but is protected by his family, who had a legal dispute 11 years ago because that same institution wanted to take custody of him so that his figure would not be exploited. The Court calculated that he could earn 150,000 pounds annually but that two-thirds went to pay for his care and that his family perfectly managed his commercial, non-profit acts: he did them simply because of his love of music. “It is right to be able to decide what happens to our son,” Mary Ann told the Sidney Morning Herald. “We want to make sure you have a great life. It was a shame to have to go through a trial, but we understand that the goal of the Institute is to make sure that the people in its care are as good as possible. “
Derek’s mother Mary Ann is the only sister of retired serviceman Andrew Parker-Bowles, who also has two other brothers. In the 1970s and 1980s, Andrew and Camilla, now the Duchess of Cornwall, were one of the most famous couples in London’s social chronicle. In fact, Andrew, now 80 years old, is still a well-known man in the social and equestrian world of his country, and so is his entire family. Not for nothing was he himself the boyfriend of Princess Anne before she married, and in fact he is godfather to her daughter, Zara Tindall. The couple formed by Andrew and who was first the girlfriend of Prince Charles, then his lover and finally his wife and the ex-military, former brigadierThey were married for more than 20 years, between 1973 and 1994. Together they had two children, Tom Parker-Bowles and Laura (now surnamed Lopes). The cousins of the famous pianist Derek Paravicini.