Last month, the Kennedy Center named five artists in its 30th year of honoring awards for lifetime achievement in the performing arts: pop music stars Brian Wilson and Diana Ross, humorist/actor Steve Martin, film director Martin Scorsese (who appeared at the Y in December 1992 for our Reel Pieces series) and pianist/conductor Leon Fleisher. If Fleisher isn’t as recognizable as others on the list, here’s a quick rundown from the New York Times:
Leon Fleisher, 79, made his piano debut at Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at age 16. He is well known for his interpretations of Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms concertos and solo recordings of Schubert. In 1965 Mr. Fleisher lost the use of his right hand due to a rare neurological disease, after which he turned to conducting. He was the source of inspiration for the creation of works for the left hand, widening the scope of piano repertory. Now a faculty member at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Mr. Fleisher said he was moved to be chosen as an honoree.
“It’s certainly one of the highest honors this country can bestow upon a person of the performing arts,” he said.
We’ve talked about Fleisher before on the Y Blog when the Times did a larger profile of him in the summer. He’s performing at the Y in December for a Chamber Music concert series with Jaime Laredo, Sharon Robinson and others.