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Leon Fleisher

Legendary pianist Leon Fleisher represents the gold standard of musicianship and, at 85 years young, he continues to impart his life-affirming artistry throughout the world, thriving in a sustained career as conductor and soloist, recitalist, chamber music artist, and master class mentor. Mr. Fleisher made his debut with the New York Philharmonic in 1944 and in 1952, he became the first American to win the prestigious Queen Elisabeth of Belgium competition, establishing himself as one of the world’s premier classical pianists. At the height of his success, he was suddenly struck silent at age 36 with a neurological affliction later identified as focal dystonia, rendering two fingers on his right hand immobile. Rather than end his career, Mr. Fleisher began focusing on repertoire for the left hand only, conducting and teaching.  Not until some forty years later was he able to return to playing with both hands after undergoing experimental treatments using a regimen of rolfing and ‘botulinum toxin’ injections. Highlights of Mr. Fleisher’s 2013-2014 season  in this country include appearances as soloist with the Boston Symphony with Kazushi Ono, the Chicago Symphony with James Conlon, and the New York String Orchestra at Carnegie Hall with Jaime Laredo conducting some of the country’s most gifted young (15 to 22 year-old) musicians.  As a conductor, he will be heard with The Cleveland Orchestra and Mitsuko Uchida and as a conductor/soloist with the Naples Philharmonic where he will be conducting a world premiere with three of his children and a daughter-in-law as harp soloists. He will be performing recitals and giving master classes nationally and around the world and he will conduct the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra and appear as soloist with orchestra in Karlsruhe, Germany.  His chamber music highlights include performances at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas with the Juilliard Quartet, in the Peoples’ Symphony Concerts series in New York with the Dover String Quartet, and at the Eastman School of Music with the Ying Quartet. He is masking a new recording for Bridge Records including left-hand works written for him and the Bach/Brahms Chaconne. Mr. Fleisher’s engagements last season included performances and master classes in Switzerland at the Lucerne Festival, in Germany as conductor/soloist with the Bamberg Symphony, in Brazil with the Orquestra Filarmônica de Minas Gerais, in France at the Conservatoire Strasbourg and he also conducted concerts in Taiwan and Japan, in addition to performing in halls across the United States. A recipient of numerous honors and awards, Mr. Fleisher received the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors in 2007. In 2006, he was the subject of the 2006 Oscar and Emmy-nominated documentary film Two Hands. His recent memoir, My Nine Lives: A Memoir of Many Careers in Music, which he co-wrote with Washington Post music critic Anne Midgette, is published by Doubleday. Most recently, Baltimore philanthropists Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker established the Leon Fleisher Scholars Fund for piano students at the Peabody Conservatory, an endowment of over $1,000,000.