$1 million to study with one-arm pianist

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.


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  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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!].

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

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

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