Leon Fleisher Wiki – Leon Fleisher Biography
One of America’s most loved and resourceful pianists has died. Leon Fleisher was 92 years old. He died of cancer in Baltimore on Sunday morning, according to his son, Julian. The pianist’s roller coaster race started with fame, turned into despair, and ended in satisfaction.
Leon Fleisher Age
He was 92 years old.
Leon Fleisher Background & Career
In his memory, Fleisher said he could not remember a time when he was not playing the piano. He gave his first public recital at the age of eight and was only 16 when he debuted at New York Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall. Orchestra conductor Pierre Monteux called Fleisher “the pianist find of the century”. At the age of 25, he recorded his first album for Columbia Records, who made a deep dive into the music that Tim Page wrote for “Washington Post” by Franz Schubert in 1996.
Page described Fleisher as a pianist with everything: “A technique that knows no difficulty, a bejeweled and impressive tone, a precise intellectual order of the musical form, and an acute sensitivity to everything it plays.”
Anne Midgette, who follows Page as the classic classical music critic of the Washington Post and co-wrote Fleisher’s memories Nine Moments, says that the pianist stands out with a certain clarity and “accuracy” to the approach and playing.
“Leon had such Apollo perfection,” says Midgette. “When you hear something playing, you think playing should be like this. There is only this sense of completion.”
This was especially true for a series of concerto recordings by Fleisher in the 1950s and 60s with conductor George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra. “First Brahms (Piano Concerto) was his signature piece,” says Midgette. “That solid world of German-speaking composers is his legacy.” At the age of 12, Fleisher’s family gave him a record of Brahms First, and four years later it would be the piece he would play at Carnegie Hall.
Fleisher was born on July 23, 1928 in San Francisco. At the age of four, the family took over the piano when he was familiar with his mother, with whom he had important skills. At nine o’clock, he went to Europe to work with legendary pianist Artur Schnabel, whose teacher was Beethoven.
At the age of 23, Fleisher was the first American to win the Queen Elisabeth Piano Competition in Brussels. His mastery of the instrument led to a golden career, but when he was only 36, he stopped surprisingly.
Fleisher was planned to tour the Soviet Union with conductor Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra, but the fourth and fifth fingers of his right hand were mysteriously twisting. I couldn’t control them. He was fired from the tour, began to cancel performances and fell into “deep funk and despair” as he told NPR in 2000.
“The gods know how they use their rays,” Fleisher said. “It was a huge blow to deny it after playing both hands after 36, 37 years.” Fleisher committed suicide. But he tried to try everything from hypnosis and EST seminars to acupuncture and carpal tunnel surgery.
After nearly two years of despair, Fleisher was willing to admit that he had to start looking in other directions.
“I suddenly realized that my connection to music was bigger than a two-handed pianist,” he said.
Fleisher increased his teaching, started his directing career and focused exclusively on making music written specifically for the left hand. Most of the repertoire was composed by pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his right arm in World War I.
“Leon was the first to do something and some were thought to have disappeared,” says Midgette. However, “people didn’t just pay to see a left-handed pianist. They paid to see the wonderful Leon Fleisher playing with his left hand.” Maurice Ravel’s Left Hand Concerto has become Fleisher’s new business card. Leon Kirchner wrote left-handed music for Fleisher among other contemporary composers.
Although he finally accepted his condition diagnosed with focal dystonia, Fleisher never lost hope. In the mid-1990s, after a series of deep tissue manipulations known as Rolfing, control over his fingers slowly began to return. He also started Botox injections and slowly Fleisher continued with all ten fingers. In 1996, Page now I prefer to listen to Fleisher, even in its present and sensitive form, now more than most other pianists before the public. In 2004, Fleisher released their first album, Two Hands, in 41 years.
Fleisher never approached his former glory with both hands, but in 2003 he made a victorious return to Carnegie Hall and was awarded the Kennedy Center Honor award in 2007. Midgette’s story is a strong lesson.
“It is the legacy of finding and finding different ways to overcome the challenge and express yourself,” says Midgette. “This is really a good thing for young musicians to be exposed.”