One thing I've noticed is that in a couple places I have to alter the fingering from what is proposed, and in a few places in the last third, I have to just totally fudge part of the chord (because I cannot reach from an A-sharp to the G-sharp the octave below it, while also playing the E and C-sharp in the octave of the A-sharp). I know fingering recommendations are usually added by later compilers-of-pieces or arrangers, but it makes me wonder about the original composer and his hand size. Chopin must have had fairly large hands, based on some of the stretches one is "supposed" to do in either the right or left hand.
I don't remember having to "fudge" for any of the "little" Bach pieces I've played. I don't know if that means that either Bach had smallish hands himself, or if he was very cognizant that some who would play his pieces had small hands (a number of the pieces I've practiced have been from the Anna Magdalene books, where Bach wrote pieces to help his second wife learn to play...so they were written, presumably, for a woman's hands). Or maybe keyboards were different in those days?
I also don't remember having to "fudge" on any of the Beethoven pieces I've played. (I have to admit: while I liked Beethoven before when I was merely a listener-of-music, I have come to like and respect him even better after playing some of his work. The Beethoven stuff I've done has been satisfying to play, and even, in places, fun). I wonder if Beethoven had smallish hands? (I don't remember ever reading of him writing a piece specifically for a woman to play - while Beethoven apparently loved several women "from afar," he apparently never really acted on those emotions and he never married. Then again, I've also read he was a somewhat difficult person to be around.)
I've read about Rachmaninoff, and how he had enormous hands (this site states that he could reach a perfect 12th. (Holy cow.) In fact, I've read that lots of people have problems playing Rachmaninoff, because they don't have a reach approaching his. (I don't know; I've never tried. And I have to admit he is a composer I remain mostly unmoved by - except for his Russian Easter Mass, which I rather like. And I think of the scene in "The Seven Year Itch" where Tom Ewell's character imagines he can seduce Marilyn Monroe's character by putting some Rachmaninoff on the stereo, but The Girl, bless her heart, is too much of a Philistine to be much moved by classical music. Well, I wouldn't count myself a Philistine, but I do find most of Rachmaninoff a little overblown for my taste.)
Another interesting story, though: Rachmaninoff nearly gave up composing after one of his early attempts. The performance went badly (allegedly the conductor, Glasunov, was drunk) and he was savaged by the critics. Roger Kaza, on that webpage I referenced, noted:
"Rachmaninoff reminds us that there really are two kinds of writer’s block. One is saying you don’t have any good ideas. Another is decreeing that the good ideas you have aren’t good enough."
And that Rachmaninoff felt the second for a long period of time. (And I admit, I know both those kinds of writer's block. And not just as writer's block: knitting designing block, research block, even composing block in the times when my piano teacher has asked me to try composing something. And sadly, I do seem to suffer more from that second type of block than the first.) He finally went to a hypnotist and apparently that helped things (Maybe it was what I call a Dumbo's Feather and what maybe someone who was more serious a psychologist would call the Placebo Effect)
Heh. I don't know about using hypnotism as a cure for creativity block. I'm sure it works in some people but based on a few past experiences, apparently I'm one of those people who can't be hypnotized.
Anyway. One thing I think would be interesting to look at (though maybe it's already been done) would be a survey of "what is the largest hand-span a composer seems to require in his pieces" and trying to correlate that with what, if anything, is known about his (or her) hand size. (Of course, that would be easier to do on living composers....)
Another interesting observation about Rachmaninoff: some think there's sufficient circumstantial evidence to say he might have had Marfan's syndrome. Or possibly acromegaly.. So large hands can carry a curse with them as well.