Legendary pianist Leon Fleisher represents the gold standard of musicianship and 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.
Leon Fleisher’s musical pedigree alone is remarkable: he was the youngest-ever student of the great Artur Schnabel, who studied with keyboard giant and pedagogue Theodor Leschetizky, a pupil of Carl Czerny, who in turn studied with Ludwig van Beethoven. He made his debut with the New York Philharmonic in 1944 and in 1952 became the first American to win the Queen Elisabeth Competition, establishing himself as one of the world's premier classical pianists, concertizing with every major orchestra and making numerous touchstone recordings for Columbia/Epic (now Sony). 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, Fleisher set off on an epic journey in search of a renewed life in music. He began focusing on repertoire for the left hand only, forging a new path as a soloist, conductor and teacher. Experimental treatments using a regimen of rolfing and 'botulinum toxin' (Botox) injections finally restored the mobility in Fleisher’s hand, and for years he has played with both hands, winning enormous acclaim for his 2004 'two-hand' recording aptly titled Two Hands, and several subsequent recordings, most recently Mozart Piano Concertos (Sony Classical, 2009).
For the 2011-12 season, Leon Fleisher returns to some of Europe's most prestigious musical capitals - London, Paris and Brussels - performing as soloist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal Festival Hall and in chamber music at Wigmore Hall, with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France at Salle Pleyel in Paris and in recital at the Brussels Palais des Beaux-Arts. He makes his UK conducting debut with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, tours the US with the Irish Chamber Orchestra, and traverses North America in appearances as conductor/soloist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and as soloist with the St. Louis and Baltimore Symphony Orchestras. Chamber music appearances include New York's Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, and historic Town Hall, with memorable master classes given at universities and conservatories around the country.
A recipient of numerous honors and awards, Leon Fleisher received the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors in 2007 for his contribution to US culture, and is the subject of the 2006 Oscar- and Emmy-nominated documentary film Two Hands, written and directed by Nathaniel Kahn (My Architect). His memoir, My Nine Lives: A Memoir of Many Careers in Music, co-written with Washington Post music critic Anne Midgette, is available on Doubleday. He and his wife, Katherine Jacobson Fleisher, a noted pianist with whom he frequently tours, live in Baltimore, MD.