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Violinist Returns To Stage With Hopes Of Walking 20-Year-Old Musician Who Lost Her Leg Plays In Orchestra

Tue., July 18, 1995

Exactly six months after she lost a leg in a freak train accident, violinist Rachel Barton returned to the concert stage to applause, flowers and warm reviews.

The doors of a commuter train closed on the strap of Miss Barton’s violin case on Jan. 16, and she was pulled under the train and dragged 100 feet. She lost her left leg at the knee and part of her right foot.

The 20-year-old musician insisted from the start that she would continue her already brilliant career.

She made good on her vow Sunday, performing as soloist in the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra’s production of Antonin Dvorak’s violin concerto.

“If I can do this, I’m so encouraged about walking,” she said afterward. Her doctor has said she will be able to walk again with prostheses.

It was her first performance with an orchestra since the accident. She had performed the national anthem in May at a Chicago Bulls basketball game.

She grinned as the audience of 6,000 to 8,000 rose in tribute. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and began.

“There was no thought of any physical ‘impairment,’ so focused was she on what she was playing, and because her ability to play the violin beautifully has not changed one iota,” the Chicago Tribune’s review said.

Afterward, Miss Barton was wheeled to the front of the stage to receive bouquets of flowers from fans.

In 1992, Miss Barton became the first American and youngest person to win the Bach Competition in Leipzig, Germany. She is the only American laureate of the 1993 Queen Elizabeth of Belgium Competition in Brussels and won second prize in both the 1992 Kreisler competition in Vienna and the Szigeti Competition in Budapest.

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