From Publishers Weekly
Pianist Fleisher played the Brahms D Minor concerto at his debut with the New York Philharmonic when he was 16 years old. A brilliant career seemed assured. But at the age of 36, Fleisher lost the use of two fingers on his right hand (due to a neurological condition called focal dystonia), which ended his performing career. This heartfelt memoir chronicles Fleisher's remarkable musical life, beginning as a child prodigy playing Beethoven in San Francisco to his acceptance of Kennedy Center Honors in 2007. Writing chronologically, Fleisher recalls his early training with the master teacher Artur Schnabel, his early performance success followed by career disappointments. He recounts his foray into conducting, his love of teaching, and his years of contentment as the director of Tanglewood. In each of the five interludes interspersed within the narrative, Fleisher provides a learned and lively synopsis of a single composer and a seminal composition. Aptly titled as a master class, these worthy asides will delight serious students of classical music or anyone interested in musical theory. Fleisher intimately chronicles his years of despair during his search for a cure to his mysterious malady, and the ultimate understanding of how his disease opened up new careers within his beloved world of classical music. (Dec.)
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For many, Leon Fleisher may be more famous for the injury to his right hand that curtailed his piano concertizing for 30 years than for the sublime playing that made him one of the world’s foremost pianists. He details the near-madness the injury caused him and, subsequently, after endless therapies, the successful cure through Botox and rolfing. More important, though, he shares a life led near the epicenter of the musical world for more than six decades, starting with his Carnegie Hall debut in 1944 at age 16 and including lessons with piano eminence Artur Schnabel, a fruitful musical relationship with conductor George Szell, associations with the great pianists of the day, conducting, teaching, and his performance approaches to signal works in the canon, which are thoughtfully handled in “Master Class” subsections. A winning volume for musicians and music fans both. --Alan Moores