Anthony Cicoria (born 1952) is an "acquired savant" — someone who exhibits savant skills after CNS injury or disease, as opposed to a person born with autistic disorder or other developmental disability. He is a doctor specializing in orthopedic medicine, orthopedic surgery, orthotics, prosthetic supplies, and sports medicine. He is best known for acquiring an unusual affinity for music after being struck by lightning. He was profiled in neurologist Oliver Sacks' book Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (2007).
Cicoria is a practicing orthopedic surgeon, and is Chief of the Medical Staff and Chief of Orthopedics at Chenango Memorial Hospital, Norwich, New York. He is also Clinical Assistant Professor of Orthopedics at State University of New York Upstate Medical University, in Syracuse. He received his BS in Biology from The Citadel and graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina (MD, PhD) and the University of Virginia Orthopedic Surgery Residency.
In 2004, Cicoria got divorced. During that same year, he had a serious motorcycle accident. Within two months he had completely recovered and returned to work.
At one time he lived in Oneonta, New York and has three children who went to college.
Struck by lightning
In 1994, when Tony Cicoria was 42 years old, he was struck by lightning near Albany, New York, while standing next to a public telephone. He had just hung up the phone and was about a foot away when a rogue bolt of lightning struck. He recalled seeing his own body on the ground surrounded by a bluish-white light. Cicoria’s heart had apparently stopped, but he was resuscitated by a woman (coincidentally an intensive-care-unit nurse), who was waiting to use the telephone.
After the accident
Cicoria suffered burns to his face and left foot where the electrical charge had entered and exited his body.
Several weeks after the accident Cicoria consulted a neurologist because he was having difficulties with his memory and was feeling sluggish. The neurological exam, including an EEG and an MRI, found nothing unusual. After a few weeks his energy returned and he went back to work. Two weeks later, his memory problems disappeared. His life had apparently returned to normal.
Then Cicoria, over a period of two or three days, became struck with an insatiable desire to listen to piano music. He acquired a piano and started to teach himself to play. His head was flooded with music that seemed to come from nowhere. Although before his accident, he had had no particular interest in music, within three months of being struck by lightning Cicoria spent nearly all his time playing and composing.
Tony Cicoria debuted his first piano composition in Westport, Connecticut, on October 12, 2007.
In 2007, under the direction of Polly van der Linde, Tony has given recitals at the Sonata Adult Piano Camp, in Bennington, Vermont, where he has played Chopin’s Military Polonaise, Op. 40 (in 2002), Chopin’s Fantaisie-Impromptu (in 2003), Brahms’ Rhapsody, Op. 79, No. 2 (in 2005), Chopin’s Scherzo in B-flat Minor, Op. 31 (in 2006) and an earlier version of his own composition, Lightning Sonata.
January 29, 2008 marked an important milestone in Cicoria's musical career. He publicly debuted at the Goodrich Theater in Oneonta, New York, presented by the Catskill Conservatory in association with the SUNY at Oneonta. The performance was assisted by a grant from the NYS Council on the Arts. This performance was recorded live by Granada Media UK, BBC One, and German National Television.
He has appeared in numerous television presentations including: BBC One’s documentary Imagine, Canada’s The Hour, Granada Media’s documentary My Strange Brain, WSKG TV Expressions and the NOVA episode Musical Minds.
Cicoria is also working on several other solo piano pieces, including a 4-hand / 2-piano piece, a symphony based on Brahms' Variation, op. 9, and a concerto.
He is also writing a book detailing the origin of his musical experience.
- "Dr. Tony Cicoria | Notes From an Accidental Pianist and Composer". CD Baby. 2008-01-29. Retrieved 2010-07-30.
- Sacks, Oliver (2007-07-23). "A Neurologist's Notebook: A Bolt from the Blue". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2010-07-30.
- Sacks, Oliver. Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain. Knopf; 1 edition (October 16, 2007). ISBN 1-4000-4081-7; ISBN 978-1-4000-4081-0.
- https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15382899 Oliver Sacks, A Bolt from the Blue: Sudden Musicophilia (from Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
-  Archived May 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- ""'SLAM! I Was Back.' Dr. Cicoria Knew He Was Back in His Own Body Because He Had Pain ..." - from "Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain" by Dr. Oliver Sacks". Prweb.com. 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2010-07-30.
- "Discover Music". CDBaby. Retrieved 2010-07-30.