by Khoo Hui Ling
Opening up to music, which is Part 2 of What It Means To Have A Lifelong Friendship with Music, is very much like opening up to a friend. It is about connecting emotionally with music. It is about seeking to learn and understand first before making any judgement. The former requires humility, while the latter, curiosity.
Leon Fleisher, a pianist greatly revered not just for his commanding musicianship but his gentle soul, is a living embodiment of humility and curiosity. For those who may not be so acquainted with the pianist, in his mid-thirties and at the height of his performing career, Mr. Fleisher lost the use of his right hand due to focal dystonia. Resilience saw him through thirty or so years of experimental treatment, as well as a spectacular career as a teacher and conductor. Half his lifetime later in his seventies, he regained the use of his right hand and cut a CD Two Hands. Not too long ago, he celebrated his 90th birthday, performing in major music festivals.
In the article “Lessons I Learned From My Dad” written for the New York classical music radio station WQXR’s blog, Julian Fleisher calls his dad, Leon Fleisher, a “badass”. I think for many of us, we can only aspire to be that bad of an ass. It is an easy and humorous read which you can explore here: https://wqxr.org/story/lessons-learned-dad-leon-fleisher-piano/.