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Leon Fleisher

Leon Fleisher was among the leading American pianists of his generation, but was stricken with a debilitating condition in his right hand, which forced him to withdraw from public performance in 1965. He soon reappeared in repertory for the left hand alone and also turned to conducting, but until the late '90s rarely performed music for two hands. Since about 1995 he has been active as a two-handed pianist. Early in his career Fleisher had become identified with the concertos of Beethoven and Brahms, the sonatas of Mozart and Schubert, and works by American composers (Kirchner, Copland, and Sessions). In his one-hand period, he often turned to the Prokofiev Fourth and Ravel D major, both for left hand, and since his rehabilitation in the 1990s Fleisher has returned to much of his earlier repertory. Fleisher's recordings are available on many labels, including Sony, DG, Vanguard, Albany, Orfeo, and Archipel.

Leon Fleisher was born in San Francisco on July 23, 1928. He began playing the piano at four and gave his first recital at six. He studied with keyboard icon Artur Schnabel from 1938-1948 and gave several remarkable debut concerts, including with the San Francisco Symphony in 1942 and with the New York Philharmonic in 1944, both under Pierre Monteux. Fleisher would later study conducting with Monteux.

Having won the Queen Elizabeth Competition in Belgium in 1952, Fleisher went on to achieve international acclaim over the next decade. In 1965 he withdrew from concertizing and sought out medical attention for his then-undiagnosed condition.

Fleisher began conducting in 1967, founding the Washington, D.C.-based Theater Chamber Players of the Kennedy Center. In 1970 he was appointed music director of the Annapolis Symphony and three years later became associate conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

In the early '90s Fleisher was finally correctly diagnosed with focal dystonia and began receiving effective treatments in 1995. Botox injections were added to his regimen in the new century, bringing further improvement. Fleisher gave his first recital at Carnegie in four decades in 2003, and the following year Vanguard released Two Hands, his first two-handed album in more than 40 years. In 2006 a documentary about Fleisher bearing the same title was released and nominated for an Academy Award. Fleisher has been on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory (now Institute) since 1959 and has taught at Curtis Institute of Music and Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music.
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Leon Fleisher Recital - Bach/Brahms, Scriabin, Saint-Saens

Composer: Tamara Takacs
Title: Toccata And Fugue, Op. 56

1. Toccata And Fugue, Op. 56: Toccata And Fugue

Composer: Camille Saint-Saëns
Title: éTudes (6) For Piano, Left Hand, Op. 135

2. éTudes (6) For Piano, Left Hand, Op. 135: I

3. éTudes (6) For Piano, Left Hand, Op. 135: II

4. éTudes (6) For Piano, Left Hand, Op. 135: III

5. éTudes (6) For Piano, Left Hand, Op. 135: IV

6. éTudes (6) For Piano, Left Hand, Op. 135: V

7. éTudes (6) For Piano, Left Hand, Op. 135: VI

Composer: Robert Saxton
Title: Chacony

8. Chacony: Chacony

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Title: Partita For Solo Violin No. 2 In D Minor, Bwv 1004

9. Partita For Solo Violin No. 2 In D Minor, Bwv 1004: V. Chaconne

Composer: Felix Blumenfeld
Title: Etude For Piano (Left Hand), Op 36

10. Etude For Piano (Left Hand), Op 36: Etude In A Flat Major Pour La Main Gauche Seule, Op. 36

Composer: Alexander Scriabin
Title: Prelude For Piano In C Sharp Minor (For Left Hand Alone), Op. 9/1

11. Prelude For Piano In C Sharp Minor (For Left Hand Alone), Op. 9/1: Prelude In C#, Op. 9, No.1

Title: Nocturne For Piano In D Flat Major (For Left Hand Alone), Op. 9/2

12. Nocturne For Piano In D Flat Major (For Left Hand Alone), Op. 9/2: Nocturne In D-flat Major, Op. 9 No. 2

Composer: Leopold Godowsky
Title: Symphonic Metamorphosis Of Wine, Women And Song From Johann Strauss Jr.

13. Symphonic Metamorphosis Of Wine, Women And Song From Johann Strauss Jr.: Metamorphosis Of Wine, Women And Song From Johann Strauss Jr.

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Track List: Leon Fleisher: All The Things You Are

Composer: Johannes Brahms
Title: Studies (5) For Piano, Anh. 1a/1
Composer: Leon Kirchner
Title: L.h., For Piano Left Hand

2. L.h., For Piano Left Hand: L.h.

Composer: Earl Wild
Title: The Man I Love, Etude For Piano (Virtuoso Etudes On Gershwin Songs)

3. The Man I Love, Etude For Piano (Virtuoso Etudes On Gershwin Songs): The Man I Love

Composer: George Perle
Title: Musical Offerings, For Piano Left Hand
Composer: Federico Mompou
Title: Preludes For Piano (12)

7. Preludes For Piano (12): VI. Pour La Main Gauche

Composer: Jerome Kern
Title: All The Things You Are, Song (From "Very Warm For May")

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