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  1. ITV Report

One-handed pianist reworks WW1 song in tribute to veterans

A one-handed pianist has reworked a classic First World War song in tribute to the veterans.

The song Roses of Picardy was a nostalgic song from the Great War era and brought comfort to soldiers in the trenches and their families back home.

Nicholas McCarthy, 25, who has reworked the song, was born without a right hand but was always determined to achieve his dream of becoming a concert pianist.

Watch Nicholas play Roses of Picardy in full:

My parents bought me a cheap keyboard because they thought it was going to be a passing fad and obviously it wasn't.

I always believed I would be able to do anything if I wanted it that much.

– Nicholas McCarthy
Nicholas' parents gave him a keyboard when he was younger. Credit: Nicholas McCarthy / ITV News

While studying at the Guildhall, Nicholas learned of a repertoire for one handed performers which were penned in the years after the First World War.

Most of that music was written for Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his right arm in the war. He also reworked classics like Bach's Ave Maria.

ITV News reporter Martha Fairlie reports:

The influence of Wittgenstein was so important that Nicholas said he owes his career to the Austrian.

I always say that I kind of owe my career to Paul Wittgenstein and all of these amazing and very brave men who came back and didn't let these horrific things that happened to them stop them pursuing their dream.

– Nicholas McCarthy
Nicholas will play in a Remembrance concert this November. Credit: ITV News

In November, Nicholas will perform Music in Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall and Roses of Picardy will be at the heart of his tribute to the First World War veterans.