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Leon Fleisher, RIP
#3009657 08/02/20 08:34 PM
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A legend. What a comeback trail he had.


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Re: Leon Fleisher, RIP
Catlady #3009664 08/02/20 09:03 PM
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Wow. A legend. Both as a performer and a teacher.


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Re: Leon Fleisher, RIP
Catlady #3009667 08/02/20 09:12 PM
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He was a true legend of the piano world.

Re: Leon Fleisher, RIP
Catlady #3009680 08/02/20 10:20 PM
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I learned of this news just now. Wow, can't believe it. Rest In Peace.

Re: Leon Fleisher, RIP
Catlady #3009772 08/03/20 09:14 AM
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Lucky to have seen him in 2018 or so in Fort Worth for one of the Cliburn series. He was trialing a new impressive looking lens to help with vision. May he rest in peace.

Last edited by dhull100; 08/03/20 09:15 AM.
Re: Leon Fleisher, RIP
Catlady #3009859 08/03/20 02:04 PM
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We saw him toward the beginning of his comeback in the late '90s or early '2000s. He played the Brahms PC1. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to play very well at that point. He must have been in his late '60's or early 70's by that time. I bought his recording of the Beethoven PC2/4 with Szell in the early-mid '60's, part of his wonderful complete Beethoven Concerti on the Epic label. His recording made me fall in love with the G major concerto.

On the video I posted of the career of Yuja Wang ("Genius of Yuja Wang" on youtube, under the thread of "Steinway Artist playing a Boesendorfer"), there is a nice section of Fleischer teaching Yuja at a master class, probably when she was at Curtis.

Last edited by astrotoy; 08/03/20 02:06 PM.

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Re: Leon Fleisher, RIP
Catlady #3009890 08/03/20 03:17 PM
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And the ranks of OYAPs thins. A great legacy.

Re: Leon Fleisher, RIP
Catlady #3009910 08/03/20 03:53 PM
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This might be a bit relevant to this forum.
At Peabody, Fleisher was basically god and a real hero of most including myself. I can tell you his sound on recording and in person is a reference for me.
The pianos in his studio back in the day ( and anecdotally currently ) were not good. They were beat to heck, to say the least. One was an older D and the other was a newer B. But when you heard Fleisher play up close.....I have never heard such a commanding and compelling sound from any other pianist on any other instrument. If he wanted you to hear a string section, you heard a string section. If he wanted you to hear a French Horn or the whole orchestra, you heard it. One hand and a couple of fingers on the other hand while holding a pencil.
It seemed a kind of thing to him. Screw the instrument, make music, make art.
To this day, I have very close friends influenced by being Fleisher students who carry a badge of honor thinking that having a crappy instrument even though they could afford whatever they wanted and their livelihood is piano, is the way to go. I have never met students of any other great teacher so stubborn in this regard.
I have convinced a few and once they got a great instrument and practiced on it a while never wanted to go back, but several will not budge. Of course, they sometimes get instruments from me for recording or concerts...well, back when we had those things smile Being me I always offer the option of a reduced moving price so they can bring their piano from home, but somehow they never take me up on it.


Keith D Kerman
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Re: Leon Fleisher, RIP
Catlady #3009915 08/03/20 04:17 PM
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@Keith
What a wonderful tribute! I wish I would have had the opportunity to hear him play


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Re: Leon Fleisher, RIP
Catlady #3009977 08/03/20 06:54 PM
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It's hard to overstate how much of an authority he was, particularly to American pianists, on the subject of the Austro-German repertoire. I think it's safe to say, for decades, his presence in Baltimore raised the international stature of the Peabody Conservatory for faculty and students alike, and contributed to what seemed like a truly top-tier, pianistic powerhouse of an institution when I attended in the 1990s. There will be generations of students preaching the "gospel of Leon" for years to come.

His approach to rhythmic subdivision as the manner of giving integrity and organization to classical phrasing was ever-present in his teaching, even if his personal take seemed so different than that of his teacher, Schnabel.

Some of the musical similes/metaphors were downright hilarious. It will take a while to remember back 20+ years, but hopefully another of his students might pop in here with a couple. Also, I think Sally Phillips has a hilarious story about trying to sell him/the school some pianos many decades ago that I hope she'll share.

And the almost ubiquitous lecture about different nationalities and tendencies of European musics (always leading to the inevitable pronouncement of superiority of the Germanic style), while passing through the Russian repertoire...glasses on the forehead or in the hair, and getting to the slowly and carefully measured punchline, "Russian music is about-- look at the way I suffer..."

To those who didn't know, even at Peabody his lessons were taught masterclass-style, open to the public. His own students had lessons with others present in the room, seemingly most of the time. There was a private, off-the-books "class" where each of the other conservatory piano faculty chose two of their students to actually take a couple lessons with him, and two other students to just observe. I was very fortunate to be chosen as one of the players for a year in my MM degree. I got to play some of Schubert Op.142 (1+2) and Brahms Op.10 (2+3) for him. I may even have a micro cassette recording of one of those lessons somewhere, but I've been terrified to listen back to my playing, or what completely idiotic or unintelligible questions I may have had for him, when asked.

Because of his international fame as a teacher and a performer, it was extremely difficult to get into his studio. If memory serves, like for the Artist Diploma, it involved either a multiple stage audition process, or a completely separate audition process that bypassed traditional channels to get into that studio on the 4th floor of the conservatory building. Just being picked to play in the class was considered such a big deal in that community, that my own mother refused to tell me she was having surgery on one of the days I was slated to play for him, so I would not be distracted.

I remember a heated argument up that same conservatory building elevator between my teacher, and another piano faculty member over whose Beethoven 4th piano concerto recording was best, Gilels or Fleisher. The pro-Fleisher contingent shouted down my teacher as if their own family was being attacked. It remains my favorite of the Beethoven concerti, and his recording is the one I use when teaching piano literature.

My brief time around this iconic figure in the piano world was around the era of one of his two-handed "comebacks", where he was seen live on stage playing chamber music, and seeming to enjoy that experience. But it still paled in comparison to what splendid things that left hand could do, alone, just demonstrating in a lesson.

Back when you had to sign library cards to check things out from the conservatory library, I remember stealing one out of a miniature score, because his signature was on the card. I wonder if it's sitting in a box somewhere.


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Re: Leon Fleisher, RIP
Catlady #3010047 08/03/20 10:36 PM
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Keith D Kerman
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New Steingraeber, Estonia, Baldwin
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check out www.sitkadoc.com/ and www.vimeo.com/203188875
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Re: Leon Fleisher, RIP
Keith D Kerman #3010058 08/03/20 11:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Keith D Kerman
Sheep May Safely Graze

Thank you for posting the video of Leon playing this. I can't think of a better tribute right now than seeing him play that piece. I had the good fortune to meet Leon in January 2019 at his "Birthday Celebration Concert" at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore. He played the MOZART Piano Concerto No. 12 in A Major with the Baltimore Symphony that night. After the concert he was in the lobby and he signed two copies of My Nine Lives when I approached him (one for me, one for my piano teacher). We chatted about Sheep May Safely Graze and that I hoped to be able to play it some day. He quietly told me if I wanted to play it, I would get there. His life is a testament to what you can accomplish if you just don't give up in the face of challenges.

Last edited by Pianosearcher; 08/03/20 11:29 PM.
Re: Leon Fleisher, RIP
Catlady #3010240 08/04/20 05:45 PM
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Thank you for your tribute to this great pianist. (who was your teacher ) How wonderful to have actually known this pianist and have had those musical experiences !

About a year ago my husband bought me a lovely CD called "Two Hands" which has a mixed selection of pieces-- some Chopin ,Jesus Joy of Man's Desire ,Sheep May Safely Graze, and of
course a Schubert Sonata (in Bflat , op.posthumous )

Last edited by Lady Bird; 08/04/20 05:47 PM. Reason: spelling
Re: Leon Fleisher, RIP
Catlady #3010281 08/04/20 08:15 PM
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Thanks Lady Bird,

I only took two lessons and watched a bunch of masterclasses, so I don’t really claim him as one of my teachers (and I wasn’t a good enough pianist to get in that studio). But he definitely was an influence—glad you enjoyed the stories.


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Re: Leon Fleisher, RIP
Catlady #3010434 08/05/20 10:39 AM
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A lot of left-handed compliments in this thread.

Re: Leon Fleisher, RIP
Sir Lurksalot #3010473 08/05/20 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Sir Lurksalot
A lot of left-handed compliments in this thread.

:P


Keith D Kerman
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Re: Leon Fleisher, RIP
Sir Lurksalot #3010482 08/05/20 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Sir Lurksalot
A lot of left-handed compliments in this thread.
I have no idea what you mean ? We are all appreciative of this great pianist and mourn his passing.
I may not have heard him play in real life ,but I have a number of his recordings.
As far as I can see everyone here is sincere in expressing how they shall miss this great artist.

Re: Leon Fleisher, RIP
Catlady #3010496 08/05/20 01:56 PM
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A joke. Fleisher lost the use of his right hand at the peak of his career, in his early 30's. It wasn't until more than 30 years later that he was slowly able to regain the use of his right hand, after many years of trying different remedies. While having only the use of his left hand, he would perform the Ravel and Prokofiev piano concerti for the left hand as well as other pieces.


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Re: Leon Fleisher, RIP
astrotoy #3010547 08/05/20 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by astrotoy
A joke. Fleisher lost the use of his right hand at the peak of his career, in his early 30's. It wasn't until more than 30 years later that he was slowly able to regain the use of his right hand, after many years of trying different remedies. While having only the use of his left hand, he would perform the Ravel and Prokofiev piano concerti for the left hand as well as other pieces.
I had no idea that happened to him !

Re: Leon Fleisher, RIP
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Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales - vintage and used Steinway, Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Baldwin
www.pianocraft.net
check out www.sitkadoc.com/ and www.vimeo.com/203188875
www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460
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