Leon Fleisher, at 90, is Leon Fleisher

The Ravinia Festival paid tribute last night to one of the greatest American pianists on his 90th birthday.

He played – and nothing changed.

His former student Lori Kaufmann writes: ‘ There was more music tonight in his rests than in a two hour recital by any other pianist around today. He still has the best sound in the business, and he has a better understanding of rhythm than any musician.’

In a phone interview with Elijah Ho, Fleisher says: ‘Except for my sight, which is fast diminishing, I’m hale, hearty and ambulatory.’

 

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  • What his student said is music to these ears. Rests, and how to execute well, are so very important in music making. But I notice how so few musicians of any tripe, including singers, have no clue or respect for rests.

  • I heard him and Katherine do much of the same program earlier this year, and it was an amazing concert. Everything — including the rests — well sculpted, and entirely natural. I was able to see him and Katherine after the concert and he’s truly a character. Happy 90th birthday!

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