Leon Fleisher Residency at Cornell: The Beethoven Project presented as a joint venture between the Cornell Music Department, Concert Series, and Ithaca College Orchestra

In 2010-2011, the distinguished American pianist and conductor Leon Fleisher reaffirms his place as one of today’s preeminent concert artists, with performances in major music centers around the world as a conductor, soloist, recitalist and chamber musician, and also as a masterclass mentor and invaluable resource in college and university residencies.  Mr. Fleisher will be in residence at Cornell University during the first week of May to work with both Cornell and Ithaca College students on a complete Beethoven piano concerto cycle.  All five concertos will be presented in two concerts, May 7 and 8, at Cornell's Bailey Hall.

This double concert weekend concludes the Cornell Concert Series 2010-11 season, but is also a special program in partnership with theDepartment of Music and funded in part by a grant from the Cornell Council for the Arts.

A student of Artur Schnabel (who studied with Theodor Leschetizky, a pupil of Carl Czerny, who in turn studied with Beethoven himself), Leon Fleisher debuted with the NY Philharmonic in 1944 and established himself as one of the world's premier classical pianists, but was suddenly struck silent at age 36 with a neurological affliction known as focal dystonia, which rendered two fingers on his right hand immobile.  He continued to perform the limited repertoire for piano left-hand alone, and began conducting and teaching, but never gave up the idea of playing with both hands again.  Experimental treatments using a regimen of rolfing and Botox injections finally restored Mr. Fleisher’s right hand, and for several years now he has played with both hands.  His signature recording of the complete Beethoven concertos, made in 1959-61 with the Cleveland Orchestra under Szell, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008, just as he was beginning to record again with both hands.  Thus, the Beethoven Project at Cornell is a befitting celebration of Leon Fleisher’s art and his deep commitment to sharing his insights with the next generation of musicians and audiences.  

The two weekend concerts – for which tickets are sold as a “double-header” set – will feature the five concertos in order as follows:  on Saturday, May 7th at 8:00 pm, Mr. Fleisher will conduct the Cornell University Chamber Orchestra in concertos 1 & 2, with piano soloists Miri Yampolsky (Cornell faculty) and Stefania Neonato (Cornell D.M.A.), and the Ithaca College Chamber Orchestra in concerto 3 with soloist Daniel Anastasio (Cornell senior); on Sunday, May 8th at 3:00 pm [note: matinee], concertos 4 & 5 feature soloists Xak Bjerken (Cornell faculty) and special guest artist Claudio Martinez-Mehner (direct from Madrid, Spain) with Leon Fleisher conducting the Cornell Symphony Orchestra.  Due to unexpected recent surgery on his hand, Mr. Fleisher will not be playing the piano part in the “Emperor” concerto.

Leon Fleisher received the 2007 Kennedy Center Honors, where Caroline Kennedy recognized him as “a piano prodigy from the Golden Gate who rose to the heights, embraced adversity and became a musician for all seasons.”  Honored by the French government as Commander in the French Order of Arts and Letters, the highest rank of its kind, and having been the first American to win the prestigious Queen Elisabeth of Belgium Competition in 1952, Mr. Fleisher holds numerous awards including the Johns Hopkins University President's Medal, and honorary doctorates from the San Francisco Conservatory, Amherst College, Boston Conservatory, Cleveland Institute of Music, Juilliard School and Peabody Institute.

CORNELL CONCERT SERIES: Leon Fleisher conducts the Beethoven Concerto Project
Saturday, May 7, 2011 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, May 8, 2011 at 3 p.m. [matinee]
Bailey Hall, Cornell University

Reserved seating for the two-concert set: ticket price includes admission and seat assignment for both days.
General $25; Students $10 [a Cornell discount rate is available on-line only with valid netID.]

on-line: or
in-person:    Ticket Center Ithaca, 171 The Commons - Center Ithaca
by phone:     (607)273-4497 or (800)284-8422


Free evening parking is available at the Schoellkopf Field Garage, located between Campus and Hoy Rds. just two blocks from Bailey.  More information can be found at

Originally published in Intercom: Leon Fleisher Residency at Cornell: The Beethoven Project presented as a joint venture between the Cornell Music Department, Concert Series, and Ithaca College Orchestra.

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