Leon Fleisher, Pianist & Conductor

"In Conversation"
Forum on the Humanities & the Public World
Photo of Leon Fleisher.
Thursday, Apr 3, 2008 | 7:00 pm
Berkeley Art Museum Theater
2621 Durant Ave
Berkeley  California
United States

Debuting with the New York Philharmonic at the age of 16, Leon Fleisher’s career as a pianist was on a smooth upward trajectory for many years; he performed all over the world with every major orchestra and conductor and recorded several classic albums. But at the age of only 37, Fleisher was forced to “retire” when two fingers of his right hand became immobile in 1965. In the nearly 40 years since Leon Fleisher's keyboard career was so suddenly curtailed, he has followed two parallel careers—as conductor and teacher—while learning to play the extensive but limiting repertoire of compositions for left-hand piano. Recently, with treatments that finally helped relieve the neurological affliction that had been plaguing him, Fleisher has begun playing with both hands again.

Before this recovery, Mr. Fleisher's reputation as a conductor was quickly established when he founded the Theatre Chamber Players at the Kennedy Center in 1967 and became Music Director of the Annapolis Symphony in 1970. As a revered pedagogue, he has held the Andrew W. Mellon Chair at the Peabody Conservatory of Music since 1959, and he serves on the faculties of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.