Left-hand pianist Nicholas McCarthy was raised by a non-musical family in Tadworth, Surrey. Because of a pre-natal medical anomaly, he was born without a right arm, but he pursued most childhood activities with determination to succeed in spite of his disability. Inspired by the example of left-hand pianist Paul Wittgenstein, McCarthy began taking an interest in playing the piano at age 14. He was admitted at 17 to the Guildhall School of Music's junior department on the condition that he concentrate only on works composed for the left hand. He graduated in 2012 from the Royal College of Music as its first left-hand pianist. McCarthy was a member of the Bristol-based British Paraorchestra, an ensemble founded by Charles Hazlewood to showcase the talents of artists with physical limitations, and McCarthy participated in the closing ceremony of the Summer Paralympics in 2012. He was a commentator for the BBC Proms in 2014, and in 2015 he spoke on Front Row, a BBC 4 program, about his first recording on Warner, Solo. In 2017, McCarthy released Echoes: Bach, Rachmaninoff for Leftnote Records, featuring his own left-hand arrangements of classical works. McCarthy is also the recipient of Nigel Hess' Nocturne for the left hand, a hit on ClassicFM.