Obituary: Pianist Leon Fleisher, 92

Posted on: August 3, 2020

“Leon Fleisher, the brilliant American pianist who was in his 30s when fingers in his right hand suddenly stopped working … and for three decades was one of the great enigmas of the classical-music world, died Aug. 2 at a hospice care center in Baltimore,” writes Anne Midgette in Sunday’s (8/2) Washington Post. “He was 92. The cause was cancer, said his son Julian Fleisher…. Mr. Fleisher’s mysterious hand malady—eventually diagnosed as a neurological disorder called focal dystonia—was a dramatic and harrowing turn of events for a onetime child prodigy…. On the eve of a historic tour of the Soviet Union with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra in 1965, Mr. Fleisher realized that he wasn’t able to play at the required level. He canceled the tour and his other upcoming concerts…. He learned the surprisingly large repertory for left-hand piano [and] performed contemporary chamber music; as music director of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra and then associate conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, he learned a wide range of orchestral classics…. In 1984, he became the artistic director of the Tanglewood Music Center…. He held the position for 13 years…. His 2004 recording ‘Two Hands,’ which moves gradually into pieces of extraordinary complexity, was enthusiastically received, and he continued to play concerts all over the world.”