Derek Paravicini, who is totally blind and profoundly autistic after being born at 26 weeks weighing less than 600g, does not know his left hand from his right and cannot distinguish between his thumb and his little finger. However, the 38-year-old dubbed “The Human iPod” can play two pianos at once and instantly recall and perform any piece of music he has ever heard, all learnt entirely by ear.
Had his nanny not retrieved an old toy organ from the loft when he was just two, the musical prodigy’s life would probably have turned out very differently. To the astonishment of his parents, he quickly taught himself to play. Since then, music has been his salvation. It has also provided his education, his therapy and his liberation from a life locked in his own world.