Renowned American pianist Leon Fleisher, who taught piano at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University for more than 60 years, died Sunday at a hospice in Baltimore. He was 92.
“With the passing of Leon Fleisher, the music world has lost one of its towering figures,” says Peabody Dean Fred Bronstein. “Our hearts go out to Leon’s wife, Katherine [Jacobson], and his family and loved ones. For members of the Peabody family, it is a deeply personal loss. The name of Leon Fleisher has been synonymous with the Peabody Institute for more than six decades, his home since 1959. Leon’s remarkable gifts as a musician, pianist, and teacher were matched only by his charm, wit, intelligence, and warmth as a human being.”
Born in 1928 in San Francisco, Fleisher began studying piano at age 4. A musical prodigy, he was invited to study classical piano with Artur Schnabel at age 9 and at 16, he performed Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor with the New York Philharmonic under conductor Pierre Monteux. In a review of that debut performance at Carnegie Hall, critic Noel Strauss wrote that the young Fleisher “scored heavily in the exacting work and at once established himself as one of the most remarkably gifted of the younger generation of American keyboard artists,” according to The New York Times.