At 83 years young, 2012 Stamps Distinguished Visitor Leon Fleisher continues to thrive as a conductor and pianist. The youngest-ever student of Artur Schnabel, Fleisher debuted with the New York Philharmonic in 1944. In 1952, he became the first American to win the Queen Elisabeth of Belgium competition, establishing him as one of the world’s premier classical pianists.
At age 36, a neurological affliction left two fingers on Fleisher’s right hand immobile. He began focusing on repertoire for the left hand only, forging new ground as a soloist, conductor and teacher. Experimental treatments finally restored the mobility in Fleisher’s hand, and in 2004, he won enormous acclaim for his recording Two Hands. Among other honors and awards, Fleisher received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2007 for his contribution to U.S. culture.
As a pianist, Fleisher returns this season to some of Europe’s most prestigious musical capitals – London, Paris and Brussels – performing as soloist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France at the Salle Pleyel in Paris and in recital at Belgium’s Palais des Beaux-Arts. Chamber music appearances include New York’s Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, and the historic Town Hall.
As a conductor, Fleisher will make his UK debut this season with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. He will also tour the U.S. with the Irish Chamber Orchestra, and North America as conductor/soloist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.