courtesy of the artist
At age 80, Leon Fleisher is still at the piano, the instrument that has been the source of both triumph and pain.
Pianist Leon Fleisher turns 80 years old today. He's considered one of the great pianists of the past century, although for a significant portion of his career he was forced to play with only one hand.
Fleisher, at the height of his career in the early 1960s, was hailed by one great conductor as "the pianistic find of the century." But then a pianist's nightmare struck: A repetitive-motion injury (later diagnosed as focal dystonia) caused the fingers of his right hand to stiffen and fold. It was an enormous blow, but Fleisher eventually found his way through by teaching, conducting, and playing repertoire written especially for the left hand. Finally, after nearly 30 years of treatments, Fleisher returned to playing with both hands.
Tim Page, a Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and professor of music and jounalism at the University of Southern California, picks some of Fleisher's finest recordings, highlighting the great musician in both stages of his amazing career.