- Leon Fleisher
Infobox musical artist
Name = Leon Fleisher
Img_capt = The Essential Leon Fleisher album cover
Img_size = 240x240
Background = gray
Born = birth date|1928|7|23|mf=y
San Francisco, CA, U.S.
Genre = Classical
Years_active = 1930s - Present
He was born in
San Francisco, California, where he started studying the piano at age 4. He made his public debut at age 8 and played with the New York Philharmonicunder Pierre Monteuxat 16. He studied with Artur Schnabel.
He made a memorable series of recordings with
George Szelland the Cleveland Orchestrabefore losing the use of his right hand due to focal dystonia. He continued performing the left-handed repertoire until he quite recently regained the use of his right hand through a combination of massageand botoxinjections. He also undertook conducting during this time, serving at one time as Music Director of the AnnapolisSymphony Orchestra in Maryland. He is particularly well-known for his interpretations of the piano concerti of Brahms and Beethoven. In 2004, Vanguard Classics released Leon Fleisher's first "two-handed" recording in over 40 years, entitled "Two Hands," to critical acclaim. "Two Hands" is also the title of a short documentary on Fleisher by Nathaniel Kahnwhich was nominated for an Academy Awardfor best short subject on January 23, 2007. Fleisher received the 2007 Kennedy Center Honors. Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman described him as "a consummate musician whose career is a moving testament to the life-affirming power of art."
Fleisher's musical interests extend beyond the central German Romantic repertory. The American composer
William Bolcomcomposed his Concerto for Two Pianos, Left Hand for Fleisher and his close friend Gary Graffman, who has also suffered from debilitating problems with his right hand. It received its first performance in Baltimore in April 1996. The concerto is constructed in such a way that it can be performed in one of three ways, with either piano part alone with reduced orchestra, or with both piano parts and the two reduced orchestras combined into a full orchestra.
He has continued to be involved in music, both conducting and teaching at the
Peabody Conservatory of Music, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the Royal Conservatory of Musicin Toronto; he is also closely associated with the Tanglewood Music Center. As a teacher, Fleisher has carried on a tradition that descends directly from Beethoven himself, handed down generationally through Carl Czerny, Theodor Leschetizky, Artur Schnabel, Fleisher himself, and then to hundreds of Fleisher's own piano students over nearly half a century. His influence on classical pianists of the current day, especially in North America, is enormous. Today his students are among piano faculty members at major music schools. Also among his students are such renowned concert pianists as Jonathan Biss, Yefim Bronfman, Jeffrey Chappell, Naida Cole, Enrique Graf, Helene Grimaud, Lorin Hollander, Bonnie Kellert, Kevin Kenner, Konstantin Lifschitz, Louis Lortie, Ana-Maria Vera, Andre Wattsand Daniel Wnukowski.
Awards and Recognitions
Queen Elisabeth Piano Competition of Belgium
* Leon Fleisher for piano (1952)Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
"Instrumentalist of the Year",
Honorary doctorates from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Towson State University, The Boston Conservatory, and the Cleveland Institute of Music
Johns Hopkins UniversityPresident's Medal.
Fleisher received the
Kennedy Center HonorsAward for 2007. [cite news
url = http://www.kennedy-center.org/programs/specialevents/honors/
title = America to Celebrate Five Extraordinary Artists on Sunday, December 2, 2007]
* "Schubert: Sonata in B-Flat Major, D.960 / Ländler (original LP release 1956)",
Sony BMG Masterworks, 2008 (digital re-release) ["First Digital Release of Six Recordings by Eminent Pianist Leon Fleisher Previously Available Only on LP" July 22, 2008 [http://www.kron4.com/Global/story.asp?S=8713467&nav=menu130_13_5_1] ]
* "Debussy: Suite bergamasque / Ravel: Sonatine / Valses nobles et sentimentales / Alborado del gracioso (original LP release 1959)", Sony BMG Masterworks, 2008 (digital re-release)
* "Mozart: Sonata in C Major, K.330 / Sonata in E-Flat Major, K.282 / Rondo in D Major, K.485 (original LP release 1960)", Sony BMG Masterworks, 2008 (digital re-release)
* "Liszt: Sonata in B Minor / Weber: Sonata No.4 in E Minor, Op. 70 / Invitation to the Dance, Op. 65 (original LP release 1960)", Sony BMG Masterworks, 2008 (digital re-release)
* "Copland: Piano Sonata / Sessions: From My Diary / Kirchner: Piano Sonata/Rorem: Three Barcarolles (original LP release 1963)", Sony BMG Masterworks, 2008 (digital re-release)
* "Brahms: Quintet for Piano and Strings in F Minor, Op. 34 (original LP release 1963)", Sony BMG Masterworks, 2008 (digital re-release)
* "The Essential Leon Fleisher",
Sony BMG Masterworks, 2008
* "The Journey", Vanguard Classics, 2006
* "Leon Fleisher: Two Hands", Vanguard Classics, 2004
* "Beethoven: Piano Concertos (original recordings remastered)",
Sony BMG Masterworks, 2006
* "Leon Fleisher Recital",
Sony Classical, 1993
* "Ravel, Prokoviev, Britten: Piano Works for the Left Hand",
Sony Classical, 1993
* "Beethoven: 5 Concertos / Mozart Concerto No. 25",
Sony Classical, 1990
Sony BMG MasterworksPodcast Series on Leon Fleisher [http://podcasts.sonybmgmasterworks.com/category/music-of-masterworks/leon-fleisher-music-of-masterworks/]
* [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92819874&ft=1&f=1039 NPR feature "Leon Fleisher: A Piano Legend at 80" on July 23, 2008 ]
* Leon Fleisher on "The Marc Steiner Show" [http://www.wypr.org/M_Steiner.html]
* Leon Fleisher on WYPR's "Maryland Morning" with Tom Hall [http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wypr/local-wypr-659313.mp3]
* Mary Bubala’s feature story for WJZ-CBS TV on Fleisher receiving the Kennedy Center Honors. To view video: [http://wjz.com/seenon/leon.fleisher.baltimore.2.618257.html]
* Interview with Fred Child on NPR "Performance Today" [http://performancetoday.publicradio.org/?month=12&day=20&year=2007]
* [http://www.americancomposers.org/bios20010318.htm Leon Fleisher biography]
Wisconsin Public Radioprogram includes an interview with Leon Fleisher [http://www.wpr.org/book/051211a.html]
Newsweek, 1 April 2004, article and transcript of interview [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4648160/]
* [http://www.cello.org/heaven/disabled/fleish.htm On his disability and claimed holistic cure]
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