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Leon Fleisher

Southeastern Piano Festival brings Leon Fleisher to South Carolina’s capital city

Legendary pianist, a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors, is the special guest for 2014

The 2014 Southeastern Piano Festival kicks off June 15 for a week of concerts, master classes and lectures at the University of South Carolina. This year the festival is honored to present the legendary pianist Leon Fleisher who will present the Marian Stanley Tucker Guest Lecture and give several master classes during the annual weeklong festival. A recipient of numerous honors and awards, he received the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors in 2007 for his contribution to the culture of the United States and the world.

Leon Fleisher represents the highest standard of musicianship and at age 85 he continues to impart his life-affirming artistry throughout the world, thriving in a sustained career as conductor and soloist, recitalist, chamber music artist, and master class mentor.

He began playing piano at the age of four and gave his first public recital at age eight. At age 9 he became the youngest-ever student of Artur Schnabel, continuing a pedagogical lineage that traces back to Beethoven. Fleisher made his formal public debut at age 16 with the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Pierre Monteux, who famously recognized him as "the pianistic find of the century." He became the first American to win the prestigious Queen Elisabeth competition in Brussels in 1952, placing him among the world's premier classical pianists.

At the height of his success in 1965, Fleisher was struck with a neurological condition rendering two fingers on his right hand immobile. Rather than end his career, he focused on repertoire for the left hand only and established a new path as soloist, conductor and teacher. Not until 40 years later was he able to return to playing with both hands after undergoing experimental treatments. The extraordinary renaissance of Fleisher's career has been documented extensively, particularly around the 2004 release of his critically acclaimed album "Two Hands," which went on to hold a top 5 Billboard Chart position.

Fleisher was the subject of the 2006 Oscar and Emmy-nominated documentary film "Two Hands" and his recent memoir, "My Nine Lives: A Memoir of Many Careers in Music," which he co-wrote with Washington Post music critic Anne Midgette, was published by Doubleday. In July 2013, Sony Classical released a 23-CD box set spanning the pianist's recording for Columbia/Epic and Sony Classical from 1954-2009.

Leon Fleisher Events:

Tuesday, June 17, 4:30
Distinguished Artist Master Class
Features participants of the Southeastern Piano Festival
USC School of Music Recital Hall (813 Assembly St.)
Free and open to the public

Wednesday, June 18, 4:30 p.m.
Distinguished Artist Master Class
Featuring participants of the Southeastern Piano Festival
USC School of Music Recital Hall (813 Assembly St.)
Free and open to the public

Thursday, June 19, 10:00 a.m.
Distinguished Artist Master Class
Featuring students studying with members of the SC Music Teachers Association.
USC School of Music Recital Hall (813 Assembly St.)
Free and open to the public

Thursday, June 19, 4:30 p.m.
Marian Stanley Tucker Guest Lecture:
"Piano Conversations" with Leon Fleisher
USC School of Music Recital Hall (813 Assembly St.)
Free and open to the public

The only piano-focused festival in the region, the Southeastern Piano Festival (June 15–21, 2014) offers nightly concerts by outstanding faculty and guest artists along with lectures and a piano competition. The festival offers a rare opportunity to view the music-making process with all classes and the competition free and open to the public.

Full schedule of festival events and concerts

Marina Lomazov, festival founder and artistic director, and festival program director Joseph Rackers, have performed around the world and each have won prizes in international piano competitions. They are International Steinway Artists.

The Symphony League of the South Carolina Philharmonic sponsors the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition. Sponsors of the 2014 Southeastern Piano Festival are Steinway & Sons, Rice Music House, Symphony League, South Carolina Philharmonic, University of South Carolina School of Music and Free Times.