“music begins where words stop … “

… Leon Fleisher … who recently played and gave Master Classes at Wichita State University.

Fleisher’s own story is a powerful tale of death and resurrection which he tells in his memoirs My Nine Lives. A rising pianistic prodigy, he suffered focal dystonia in his ‘30’s and his (one) career was cut short. He continued as a gifted teacher, conductor and (left hand) pianist. His story is also told in the documentary Two Hands.

During his recent master classes … he encouraged students to ask themselves what the purpose of the piece is? … Why are they playing this? … What is the composer saying … emotionally? … spiritually? What are your own specific words that describe the music? These then become the specific goal to reach for.

Especially poignant was his admonition to several of the students regarding specific areas of technique that they will be able to “get away with” for a few years while they are young … but that will be “suicidal” if continued (reflecting his own career).