Venue Details

Irvine Barclay Theatre
4242 Campus Drive Irvine, CA 92612
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Leon Fleisher, guest lecturer

Timothy Mangan, facilitator

Hailed as “a legend in his own time,” Leon Fleisher returns four years after his last performance in Orange County alongside the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra for an intimate evening exploring his extraordinary career. The evening will begin with Fleisher’s 2006 Oscar-nominated documentary film, Two Hands. Fleisher’s “comeback,” wrote Holly Brubach in The New York Times in 2007, “has catapulted him up next to Lance Armstrong as a symbol of the indomitable human spirit and an inspiration to a broader public.”

Following the film, Mr. Fleisher will perform a few pieces for the audience and will participate in a question-and-answer session facilitated by Tim Mangan, contributor for The Orange County Register.

The first American to have won the prestigious Queen Elisabeth of Belgium competition, Leon Fleisher is the winner of numerous awards, including the Johns Hopkins University President’s Medal and the Kennedy Center Honors Award. He was named Musical America’s “Instrumentalist of the Year” and was granted a fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as well as honorary doctorates from Towson State University, the Boston Conservatory, and the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Born in San Francisco, Leon Fleisher began piano lessons when he was four years old. He performed his first solo recital at the age of 8 and played with the New York Philharmonic under Pierre Monteux at 16, noted then by The New York Times as “one of the most gifted of the younger generation of keyboard artists” and by the great conductor Pierre Monteux as the “pianistic find of the century.” He became one of the few child virtuosos to be accepted for study with Artur Schnabel, and also studied with Maria Curcio, the last and favorite pupil of Schnabel.

For a dozen years Fleisher appeared in all the world’s major music centers to great acclaim and even made a series of recordings with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra. He was at the height of his career when, in 1965, he was forced to retire from the stage at the age of 37 when he was struck with a neurological affliction that rendered two fingers of his right hand immobile. Still, Fleisher embraced his connection to music and carved out a new career for himself as a teacher and conductor. For almost four decades, Fleisher continued to share his special gifts through performances of the repertoire for left hand, never giving up the hope that he would play again with both hands.

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