Orthopedic surgeon says being struck by lightning turned him into a concert pianist – despite having no idea how to read or write music
- Tony Cicoria was struck by lightning at Sleepy Hollow Lake, New York in 1994
- Then he started to have an ‘incredible desire to hear classical music’
- Cicoria dreamed up a composition that he remembered at every piano session
- He had no idea how to write it down initially but a music teacher helped him
- In 2008, the State University of New York invited him to play a concert that was attended by thousands of people and various media organizations
- He played the Opus One: The Lightning Sonata and other compositions from his album, Notes From An Accidental Pianist And Composer
- Cicoria tells the story on the April 28 edition of Vice’s Extremes podcast
An orthopedic surgeon has spoken about how he became a concert pianist practically overnight after he was struck by lightning.
Tony Cicoria says he was using a pay phone at Sleepy Hollow Lake in Athens, New York when a bolt struck the booth and a current went through his body.
Cicoria became obsessed with classic music from that moment on and years later he was composed his own songs, despite not having any experience or interest in playing an instrument since he was a child.
‘I started to have this incredible desire to hear classical music,’ he tells Vice Media’s Extremes podcast. ‘So I bought this CD of Vladimir Ashkenazy, a famous Russian pianist, playing his favorite Chopin, and I started listening to it nonstop.
Tony Cicoria developed musical talent after he was struck by lightning in 1994. He released his album Notes From An Accidental Pianist And Composer (pictured) in 2008
In January 2008, the BBC, German National Television and Granada media recorded his concert at the State University of New York Performing Arts Center (pictured) which was attended by thousands of people
‘But then I had this realization that listening to this would not be enough. I would need to learn how to play it.’
Cicoria said in the podcast episode released April 28, that his ‘hands had no idea what to do’ and he was ‘struggling to wrap [his] head around every aspect of it’ but while he was teaching himself he had ‘this most incredible dream’.
‘In this dream, I was looking at myself playing on a stage and I was walking behind myself,’ Cicoria said in the interview about the experience in 1994.
‘And as I walked across the stage I realized I wasn’t playing somebody else’s music. I was playing my own music. And the music ended with a loud crash which woke me up.’
The doctor had no idea how to write music for other people to read so had no way of documenting it. However the composition returned to him from memory every time he sat down at the piano.
Cicoria – who was in his early 40s at the time – got a music teacher and practiced in the morning before work then after spending time with his children at night.
Cicoria’s obsession began when he was struck at Sleepy Hollow Lake in Athens, New York (pictured). He says from that moment on he was obsessed with classic music
Seven months later he had written the Lightning Sonata but later changed it to Opus One: The Lightning Sonata after a friend told him it wasn’t in the correct form to be called a sonata.
‘You can title music anything you want,’ Cicoria quipped on the podcast with Vice Australia.
After his story was picked up by the New Yorker, one of the heads of the music department at the State University of New York asked him to play a concert in their Performing Arts Center.
In January 2008, 14 years after he was struck by lightning, the BBC, German National Television and Granada media recorded his show attended by thousands of people.
At the same time he released Notes From An Accidental Pianist And Composer by Dr. Tony Cicoria.
‘It was terrifying. I don’t know how I didn’t run away—I really don’t,’ Cicoria admitted. ‘But in the end, I made it through the entire program and that was it.
‘I sat down and played the music exactly as I heard it in the dream. I’d finally played The Lightning Sonata.’