Biographies Leon Fleisher

Leon Fleisher, born in San Francisco in 1928, had his first piano lessons at the age of four and gave his first public recital at the age of six. When he was ten, he began a decade of study with the renowned German pianist Artur Schnabel, and in 1944, at the age of sixteen, he made his Carnegie Hall debut with conductor Pierre Monteux and New York Philharmonic, playing Brahms's Piano Concerto in D Minor.

In 1952, after winning the prestigious Queen Elisabeth of Belgium International Music Competition--the first American to do so--Fleisher embarked on an international career as a concert pianist. He also initiated a series of recordings with conductor George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra, including the complete Beethoven and Brahms piano concerti.

In the mid-1960s, Fleisher's right hand was disabled by what was ultimately diagnosed--but not until 1991--as focal hand dystonia, or repetitive stress syndrome. In response, he concentrated his attentions on teaching, conducting, and mastering the piano repertoire for the left hand.

His teaching career began in 1959 at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore (now the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University), where he currently holds the Andrew W. Mellon Chair in piano. The demand for his renowned pedagogical insights and expertise has taken him to venues in both the United States and abroad. In addition to teaching at the Peabody Institute, he teaches at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, and he has conducted master classes at the Salzburg Mozarteum in Austria, the Paris Conservatory, the Ravel Academy at St. Jean de Luz in France, the Mishkenot in Jerusalem, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. From 1986 to 1997 he was artistic director of the Tanglewood Music Center in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts.

Fleisher's conducting career began in 1967, when he co-founded and became co-director of the Theater Chamber Players of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He was made music director of the Annapolis Symphony in 1970, and he made appearances as guest conductor with the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center in New York City, with the Boston and Chicago Symphonies, and with the New Japan Philharmonic. In 1973 he was made an associate conductor of the Baltimore Symphony, a position from which he resigned in 1978 to pursue more vigorously his active career as a guest conductor.

Since being inflicted with his right-hand malady, Fleisher has performed much piano music for the left hand alone, both in concert and for recordings, two of which were nominated for Grammy Awards. After surgery in 1981 to repair his hand, Fleisher made a brief and what has been described as "spectacular" return to the concert stage as a two-handed pianist. But not until 1995, several years after receiving the definitive diagnosis of focal dystonia for his ailment, and after appropriate rehabilitative therapy, did Fleisher make a more complete resurrection as a bimanual pianist. He now plays a limited repertoire of works for both hands and continues to perform the left-hand repertoire, both in solo recitals and in appearances with orchestra.

Fleisher has received numerous honors in recognition of his accomplishments. They include honorary doctorates from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music, and Juilliard School of Music; membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Musical America's naming of him as Instrumentalist of the Year in 1994; and the Johns Hopkins University President's Medal. He was inducted into the Classical Music Hall of Fame in the year 2000, the first living pianist to be so honored.

Discography

1956

Columbia ML 5061

Schubert, Franz.
   Sonata for Piano in B-flat Major, Op. 171, D. 960
   Deutsche Tanze for Piano, D. 790

Epic LC 3356
Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, Szymon Goldberg, conductor.

Hindemith, Paul.
   The four temperaments : theme with four variations for piano and strings

Co-issue: Philips A 00365 (1956)

1957

Epic LC 3330
Cleveland Orchestra, George Szell, conductor

Delius, Frederick.
   Irmelin: prelude
Franck, César
   Symphonic variations for piano and orchestra, M 46.
Rachmaninov, Sergei.
   Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in A minor for piano & orchestra, Op. 43

Reissue: CBS Masterworks 37812 (1982)
Reissue of Rachmaninov: Polygram 456775 (1999)

Epic LC 3331

Brahms, Johannes
   Variations and fugue on a theme of Handel, op. 24
   Waltzes, op. 39

Reissues: Odyssey Y 35920 (1979)
Sony Classical 63225 (1997)

1958

Epic LC 3484 / BC 1003
Cleveland Orchestra, George Szell, conductor

Brahms, Johannes
   Concerto No 1 in D minor for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 15

Reissues: Columbia Odyssey Y 31273 (1973)
Sony Classical 63225 (1997)

1959

Epic LC 3554

Debussy, Claude
   Suite Bergamasque
Ravel, Maurice.
   Sonatine.
   Valses nobles et sentimentales
   Miroirs: Alborada del gracioso.

Reissue of Sonatine and Alborada: Polygram 456775 (1999)

Epic LC 3574 / BC 1025
Cleveland Orchestra, George Szell, conductor.

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus
   Concerto no. 25 in C major for piano and orchestra, K. 503.
Beethoven, Ludwig van
   Concerto for Piano no 4 in G major, Op. 58

Reissue: CBS 37762 (1988)
Mozart Concerto reissue: Columbia D3M 33261 (1975)
CBS Masterworks 42445 (1990)

Epic LC 3584 / BC 10??

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus
   Piano Sonata in C Major, K. 330
   Piano Sonata in E-flat Major, K. 282
   Rondo in D Major, K. 485

Reissue of K. 330: Polygram 456775 (1999)

1960

Epic LC 3675 / BC 1066

Listz, Franz.
   Sonata for piano in B minor, S 178 .
Weber, Carl Maria von.
   Sonata no. 4 in E minor, op. 70.

Reissue: Polygram 456775 (1999)

Epic LC 3689 / BC 1080
Cleveland Orchestra, George Szell, conductor.

Grieg, Edvard
   Concerto for piano in A minor, Op. 16.
Schumann, Robert
   Concerto for piano and orchestra in A minor, op. 54.

Reissues: Odyssey Y 30668 (1971)
CBS Masterworks 38757 (1983)
Sony Classical 92751 (2005)

1961

Columbia: ML 5636 / MS 6236
Benita Valente, soprano; Marlena Kleinman, alto; Wayne Connor, tenor; Martial Singher, bass; Rudolf Serkin, piano.

Brahms, Johannes.
   Liebeslieder Walzer, op. 52.

Reissue: CBS Masterworks 39548 (1984)
Sony Classical 48176 (1992)

Epic SC 6039 (LC 3765 - 3768) / BC 1123 - 1126
Cleveland Orchestra, George Szell, conductor.

Schumann, Robert
   Manfred Overture
   Symphony no 1 in B flat major, Op. 38 "Spring".
   Symphony no 2 in C major, Op. 61.
   Symphony no 3 in E flat major, Op. 97 "Rhenish".
   Symphony no 4 in D minor, Op. 120.
   Concerto for piano and orchestra in A minor, op. 54.

Library of Congress Concert, 1961-04-21.
Budapest String Quartet.

Brahms, Johannes.
   Quartet in A Major for violin, viola, violoncello, and piano, op. 26.
Schubert, Franz.
   Quintet in A Major for violin, viola, violoncello, double bass, and piano, op. 114 (1819) : the "Trout" quintet.

Epic LC 3788 - 3791 / BC 1136 - 1139 [4 LPs issued separately in mono and stereo]
Cleveland Orchestra, George Szell, conductor.

Beethoven, Ludwig van
   Concerto for Piano no 1 in C major, Op. 15
   Concerto for Piano no 2 in B flat major, Op. 19.
   Concerto for Piano no 3 in C minor, Op. 37.
   Concerto for Piano no 4 in G major, Op. 58
   Concerto for Piano no 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 "Emperor".

Reissues: Epic SC 6051 / BSC 151 (1965)
Columbia M4X 30052 (1971)
CBS Masterworks 42445 (1990)
Concertos 1 & 3 reissue: Sony Classical 47658 (1992)
Concertos 2 & 4 reissue: Sony Classical 48165 (1992)
Concerto 5 reissue: Sony Classical 46459 (1991)
Sony Classical 89961 (2002)

1962

Library of Congress Concert, 1962-11-01.
LWO 3876
Juilliard String Quartet

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus.
   Quartet in Eb major, for violin, viola, violoncello, and piano, K.V. 492.
Bartók, Béla.
   String quartet, no. 3
Brahms, Johannes.
   Quintet in F minor for two violins, viola, viola, violoncello, and piano, op. 34

1963

Epic LC 3853 / BC 1253
Cleveland Orchestra, George Szell, conductor; Jules Eskin, cello.

Brahms, Johannes
   Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 83

Reissues: Odyssey Y 32222 (1973)
Sony Classical 63225 (1997)

Epic LC 3862 / BC 1262

Copland, Aaron.
   Piano sonata.
   Kirchner, Leon.
   Piano sonata.
Rorem, Ned..
   Three barcarolle
Sessions, Roger.
   From my diary.

Kirchner reissue: Music & Arts 1045 (1999)
Rorem and Copeland reissue: Polygram 456775 (1999)

Epic LC 3865 / BC 1265
Juilliard String Quartet

Brahms, Johannes
   Quintet in F minor for Piano and Strings, Op. 34

Reissue: Columbia/Odyssey Y35211 (1978)

Epic LC 3874 / BC 1274

Schubert, Franz
   Fantasy in C Major, "The Wanderer," Op. 15, D. 760
   Piano Sonata in A Major, Op. 120, D. 664

Reissue: Sony Classical 47667 (1992)

1964

Library of Congress Concert, 1964-05-01.
LWO 4274
Juilliard String Quartet.

Ginastera, Alberto.
   Quintet for piano and string quartet.
Johannes Brahms .
   Quartet in G minor for violin, viola, violoncello, and piano, op. 25.

1971

Odyssey Y 30668

Grieg, Edvard.
   Concerto in A minor for piano and orchestra, op. 16.

Reissue: CBS Masterworks 38757 (1983)

1973

Desto DC-7168
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Sergiu Comissiona, conductor.

Britten, Benjamin.
   Diversions on a theme, opus 21, for pianoforte and orchestra.
Laderman, Ezra
   Concerto for orchestra.

Reissue: Phoenix PHCD 122 (1991)

1982

Vanguard Classics VA 25014
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Sergiu Comissiona, conductor.

Ravel, Maurice
   Concerto for Piano (left hand) in D major.
   Miroirs: Alborada del gracioso.
   Rapsodie espagnole.

Reissues: Vanguard OVC 4002 (1991)
Artemis Classics (2005)
Vanguard Classics 1614 (2005)
Concerto reissue: Polygram 456775 (1999)

1989

AS Disc 412
Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Bruno Walter, conductor

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus
   Concerto for Piano No. 23 in A Major, K. 488

Recorded in 1942-50.

Reissue: Idi 6369 (2002)

1993

Sony Classical 47188
Boston Symphony Orchestra, Seiji Ozawa, conductor.

Ravel, Maurice.
   Concerto for Piano Left hand in D major
Prokofiev, Sergei.
   Concerto No 4. for Piano Left Hand in B flat major, Op. 53.
Britten, Benjamin.
   Diversions for Piano Left Hand and Orchestra, op. 21.

Sony Classical 48081 - "Piano Works for the Left Hand"

Bach, Johann Sebastian
   Chaconne: from Partita II for Violin in D minor, BWV 1004 [arr. Johannes Brahms]
Blumenfeld, Felix
   Etude for Piano left hand in A flat major, Op. 36
Godowsky, Leopold
   Symphonic metamorphoses of themes from "Schatz-Walzer"
Saint-Saëns, Camille.
   Six Etudes for Piano left hand, Op. 135.
Saxton, Robert.
   Chacony for Piano left hand.
Scriabin, Alexander.
   Pieces (2) for Piano left hand, Op. 9: no 1, Prélude in C sharp minor
   Pieces (2) for Piano left hand, Op. 9: no 2, Nocturne in D major
Takacs, Jeno von.
   Toccata and Fugue for Piano left hand, Op. 56

1997

Arabesque 6700
John Shirley-Quirk, bass baritone; Phyllis Bryn-Julson, soprano.

Schumann, Robert.
   Liederkreis, Op. 24.
   Frauenliebe und Leben, Op. 42.
   Dichterliebe, Op. 48.

1998

Sony Classical 48253
Jaime Laredo, violin; Joseph Silverstein, violin; Michael Tree, viola; Yo-Yo Ma, cello.

Korngold, Erich Wolfgang
   Suite for piano left hand and strings, op. 23.
Schmidt, Franz.
   Quintet in G major for 2 violins, viola, cello & piano left hand.

2004

Vanguard Classics 1551 - "Two Hands"

Bach, Johann Sebastian.
   Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147: Jesu bleibet meine Freude "Jesu, joy of man's desiring".
   Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd!, BWV 208 "Hunt Cantata": Schafe können sicher weiden.
Chopin, Frédéric.
   Mazurkas for Piano in C-sharp minor, Op. 50: no 3
   Nocturnes for Piano in D-flat Major, Op. 27: no 2
Debussy, Claude.
   Suite bergamasque: 3rd movement, Clair de Lune.
Scarlatti, Domenico.
   Sonata for Harpsichord in E Major, K 380/L 23
Schubert, Franz.
   Sonata for Piano in B-flat Major, D 960.


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This discography was assembled using available catalog records, internet resources, discographies, and other works. Especially included are the performers' Library of Congress concert appearances, the recordings of which reside in the Library of Congress's Recorded Sound collections. Excluded are the numerous promotional and special market reissues of excerpts of complete recordings.

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Title
Leon Fleisher
Subject Headings
-  Fleisher, Leon -- -- pianist
-  Biographies
-  Songs and Music
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biography
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