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Leon Fleisher gives a master class Nov. 14
— Leon Fleisher
The Yale School of Music presents a master class with legendary pianist Leon Fleisher on Thursday, November 14. Once hailed by the French conductor Pierre Monteux as “the pianistic find of the century,” Mr. Fleisher began studying piano at age 9, when he became the youngest-ever student of Arthur Schnabel.
In the master class, Fleisher will work with three Yale School of Music student pianists. Jenny Chen will play Beethoven’s Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53, “Waldstein.” Suzana Bartal, a past winner of the Woolsey Concerto Competition, will play Schubert’s Sonata in B-flat major, D. 960. Larry Weng will also play Schubert, concluding the class with the Sonata in A major, D. 959 (Op. posth).
The event takes place 10:30 am – 1:00 pm in Morse Recital Hall, located in Sprague Hall (470 College St, New Haven). This class is open to the general public; admission is free, and no tickets are required. For more information, call the Yale School of Music concert office at 203 432-4158 or visit music.yale.edu.
In addition to giving this master class, Leon Fleisher will perform a recital on the Horowitz Piano Series on Wednesday, November 13 at 8 pm. Mr. Fleisher will perform selections of his left-handed repertoire, as well as four-handed pieces with his wife, Katherine Jacobson Fleisher. MORE INFO
About 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.