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Thomas Wiggins

Thomas Wiggins


Listen to "Water in the Moonlight" here, arranged for String Quartet.

Thomas Wiggins was a talented American pianist and composer from the late nineteenth century. Born to slave parents, Wiggins was blind at birth and was not given usual slave labor. Instead, he learned to play piano by ear, and wrote his first composition at age 5. He was hired to tour throughout the US as a performer when he was only 8 years old, and earned an estimated $750,000 for his owner, General James Neil Bethune, making Wiggins arguably the most highly compensated pianist of the nineteenth century. Reportedly Wiggins could hear a performance only once and was able to reproduce the music at the piano. He continued to perform extensively until he was 55, when he allegedly suffered a stroke. Even after retiring, however, neighbors said they could hear Wiggins playing piano at all hours at his home in Hoboken, New Jersey.

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