BALTIMORE—Leon Fleisher, a famous American pianist, died Sunday in Baltimore at the age of 92. Born in San Francisco, Fleisher saw great success as a concert pianist during the 1950s and 1960s. Throughout his career, he focused on classical works from the 19th century, including Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Rachmaninoff, Debussy and others.
Leon Fleisher was born in San Francisco in 1928 to Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. Starting from a young age, Fleisher studied piano and was later withdrawn from public elementary school so he could devote more time to studying music theory and practicing piano.
By the 1930s, Fleisher had already played a few concerts, and by the 1950s he became internationally recognized for his talent.
However, beginning in the early 1960s, Fleisher developed focal dystonia, a malady that would prove to be career-altering. The neurological condition significantly impacted the function of his right hand, which would significantly impact his performances and force him to make some adjustments to his career, such as performing left-handed musical arrangements. Eventually, he discovered that a combination of Rolfing and Botox injections was enough to keep him performing a limited repertoire. Rolfing is a kind of deep massage classified as alternative medicine.
Fleisher’s death was confirmed by his son Julian on August 3. The reported cause of death was complications due to cancer.