The Musician, the Magician, and The Mysteries of My Life


The Argentinean magician, Rene Lavand, died this past February. He was well-known for his sense of elegance, his signature catch phrase, “I Can’t Do it Any Slower,” and the fact that his consummate sleight-of-hand was all performed with only one hand, having lost his right hand in a car accident when he was seven years old.

In his book, co-written with Richard Kaufman, The Mysteries of My Life, the first half is devoted to a detailed description of his full evening card act, both effect and one-handed method; but the second half of the book is comprised of philosophy, bits of autobiography, and favorite stories about other performers who had informed his artistic life. Here’s a very short story that he loved to tell:

“Perhaps it is appropriate to remember that for art there are no sacrifices [too large]: Michelangelo giving his life to Saint Peter’s Basilica; Beethoven’s deafness, Paganini deforming the bones in his hands from playing. They have shown us.

A young, passionate and fervent admirer of the great Arthur Rubinstein one morning saw him on the street. Running after him, out of breath, he said, “Maestro! I would give my life to play like you!”

To which the Maestro responded “I did.”

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