Born in San Francisco in 1928, Leon Fleisher became one of America’s most refined concert pianists, making his Carnegie Hall début at 16 and recording his first album for Columbia at 25. After losing the use of his right hand in 1964, he resumed his career by focusing on works written for the left hand and subsequently took on conducting. He also taught at the Curtis Institute as well as the Peabody Conservatory of Music, where he remained a faculty member for over sixty years. He died of cancer in Baltimore on August 2nd.
Fred Bronstein, dean of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, released the following statement today, upon news of the death of Leon Fleisher.
“With the passing of Leon Fleisher, the music world has lost one of its towering figures. Our hearts go out to Leon’s wife, Katherine, and his family and loved ones. For members of the Peabody family, it is a deeply personal loss. The name of Leon Fleisher has been synonymous with the Peabody Institute for more than six decades, his home since 1959. Leon’s remarkable gifts as a musician, pianist, and teacher, were matched only by his charm, wit, intelligence and warmth as a human being.
“As a member of the Peabody Conservatory faculty, Mr. Fleisher provided inspiration, guidance, and singular insight to hundreds of students over the years both in his piano studio and on the podium. His approach to teaching went as deep as possible – showing young artists how to connect a love of music to the world around them.
“It seems simplistic to say that there was no one else like Leon. But that is the essence of it. We were extremely fortunate to have had this man in our midst for so many years. His impact here is profound and lasting, and his absence will be felt keenly throughout the Peabody community. We have lost a giant.”
In 2012, Fleisher donated his concert and master class programs, press material, correspondence, itineraries, photographs, clippings, personal papers, and memorabilia to the Peabody Archives. More than 1,000 of these items have been digitized and are available through the Fleisher digital collection.