The Art of the Piano Foundation mourns passing of the legendary Leon Fleisher. He was to have joined us for the third consecutive summer this year, but alas, it was not to be.I first played for Fleisher in 1986, during my first year at Peabody Conservatory for his class “Traditions in Piano Literature.” This was a masterclass course for those that were not his students. I played in those classes several times every year until I became his student in 1990. His deep and philosophical thinking, his deep love and belief in the power of music, his thorough commitment to teaching, (and the current of energy manifest when he was doing it!) were beyond inspiring to legions of students.

His legacy lives in acclaimed recordings of Beethoven and Brahms concertos with George Szell; the story of his determination and strength battling through his life-changing injury; his serious address of the responsibilities of citizenship when he penned his op-ed to The Washington Post on the occasion of his receiving the Kennedy Center Honors in 2007 (he was unsure of whether or not to accept the award under an administration that was waging war and torturing prisoners); and primarily though the lives of those of us whom he directly touched by taking us in as his students.

Thank you and rest easy Leon, you’ve well earned this long sleep, and we’re forever grateful to your spirit,

Awadagin Pratt

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