Concert pianist retires with Parkinsons

The well-known Philadelphia pianist Leon Bates has retired from performance after a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. He is 69.

Peter Dobrin has the full story.


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  • I am sorry to hear this. As a musician — and bodybuilder! — he has always been so disciplined and his outlook inspirational. I had the honor to interview him a few years ago. My best wishes to him. Unfortunately I can’t read the article, as it appears to be paywalled.

  • Mr. Bates appeared as a soloist in my university orchestra. He played Rhapsody in Blue, it was terrific.

    I attended an obscure university, well, not too obscure if you wanted to study engineering, nursing, agriculture or agricultural engineering, obscure if you wanted to study music. In addition to doing some master classes for music students Mr. Bates also talked to some of the weight lifting classes.

    A great friend (pianist) and I (tubist) had befriended Mr. Bates and invited him to have a drink after rehearsal on Saturday night. He agreed and we had a fun, rambling conversation in an overheated college bar in the dead of winter.

  • I met Leon Bates many years ago when I was a student and also principal keyboard in a Midwest metropolitan-level orchestra — Leon was a guest soloist twice during my tenure, playing the Gershwin Concerto in F and the Bartok Second Concerto. He used the score for the Bartók, as it was his first performance of the work, a choice that I fully appreciated and respected, and he asked me to turn pages for him. It was an extraordinary performance, but what I remember most about him was his kindness to a young musician, and the respect that he treated everyone with in the orchestra.

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