The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the loss of legendary American pianist, conductor, and pedagogue Leon Fleisher, who died yesterday in Baltimore. He was 92.

Fleisher began playing the piano at the age of four, and five years later he became a student of Artur Schnabel. At sixteen in 1944, he made his debut performing Brahms’s First Piano Concerto with the San Francisco Symphony and then with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall, both under Pierre Monteux. The following year, he made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Leonard Bernstein conducting at the Ravinia Festival.

In 1964, Fleisher lost the use of his right hand due to focal dystonia, forcing him to concentrate on repertoire written for the left hand. By the late 1990s, he had regained use of his right hand. A tireless pedagogue, he was (according to his son Julian) still teaching and conducting master classes online as recently as last week.

Fleisher appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on numerous occasions, both in Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival. A complete list can be found here: Remembering Leon Fleisher.

TOP: Leon Fleisher | Eli Turner photo