Sandro De Palma started playing piano at the age of three. At six he began his studies with Massimo Bertucci and Vincenzo Vitale, and he performed for the first time at the age of nine, playing Bach, Schubert, and Chopin.
This is an extract of the review of that time:
”The phenomenon of the child prodigy is often bittersweet, beginning with exhilaration and amazement but more often than not ending in disappointment. De Palma defied the usual pattern. A lively, intelligent, well-mannered, and somewhat introverted boy at the piano, he would transform into an introspective musician of expressive maturity that was well-beyond his years. Within just four years of study with Vicenzo Vitale, De Palma was described as playing with a clarity of sound, brilliant technique, exquisite phrasing, and thoughtful interpretation.
(click on the picture to listen to recording)
In 1968, during a concert given by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli at San Carlo Theatre in Naples, De Palma decided to commit himself to a career as a pianist.
“…I was so impressed that I could not sleep for a week. I had already heard other pianists, but nobody impressed me as he did. Many years later I heard him perform again in a concert held at the Vatican, and my impression was quite the same."
Nikita Magaloff heard De Palma perform some time later. Magaloff was so impressed that he agreed to give him lessons, and and was his advisor until his death in 1995.
De Palma: “Nikita Magaloff was in Naples for a concert and Vitale accompanied me to the hotel where Magaloff was staying, where I was introduced. ‘What is your name?’ the famous Russian pianist asked me. ‘Sandro De Palma,’ I replied. And he said to me ‘Nice name for a pianist.’
The day after he listened to me and he gave me some suggestions about the pedals and he made me listen to a Debussy prelude and something from Chopin, in order to show me his approach. Every year would come to Naples to play a concert and each time he wanted to listen to me. Later I went and saw him in Geneve and Vevey. When I played all the Chopin Études, he encouraged me a lot, giving me precious suggestions on how to interpret Chopin Études in front of the audience.”
(Quotations are from an interview from "Il Mattino", Naples 1978)
After Vitale’s death, De Palma followed Piero Rattalino’s suggestion and he studied for two years in London with Alice Kezeradze-Pogorelich.