$1 million to study with one-arm pianist

$1 million to study with one-arm pianist


norman lebrecht

July 15, 2014

The Peabody Institute has received a gift of $1 million to provide scholarships for students of the formidable pianist, Leon Fleisher.




Fleisher has played one-handed since 1964 as a result of focal dystonia.

He can say more about art with one hand than most can with two.

This is an enlightened gift for some very lucky students.



  • mr oakmount says:

    I think I saw him playing two-handed in the 90s. I also seem to remember an article about him using botox injections to stop the “false” nerve-signals that interfered with his right hand.

  • Brian says:

    My sources indicate that Fleischer released his acclaimed “Two Hands” recording in 2004, after his recovery from focal dystonia. And I seem to recall an episode of Bill McLaughlin’s St. Paul Sunday on which he appeared. Has he been forced to return to left hand alone?

  • Shalom Rackovsky says:

    Fleisher has recovered. I was at a concert this year in which he played the Brahms Piano Quintet with the Ying Quartet [with Misha Kopelman substituting for Ayano Ninomiya, the first violinist, who had a family emergency!].

  • BDL2 says:

    Yes…his focal dystonia was treated several years ago…

  • newyorker says:

    Fleisher’s dystonia has not been healed. He found a way to cope with it. It’s in his memoir “My Nine Lives.”

  • thaddeus rex says:

    Heard him play Beethoven’s Emperor concerto with the San Francisco Symphony in 2007/2008 or so. Definitely used both hands, sounded magnificent.