Tue January 11, 2011
"My Nine Lives: A Memoir of Many Careers in Music"
By Rich Fisher
Tulsa, Oklahoma – On today's show, we speak by phone with the famed classical musician and conductor Leon Fleisher, who had his debut as a pianist with the New York Philharmonic when he was 16 (back in the Forties). Some twenty years later, however, in the prime of his glowing career, Fleisher lost the use of two fingers in his right hand (due to a mysterious neurological condition). Nevertheless, he went on to achieve great success as both a conductor and a music teacher --- and incredibly, a few decades later, he was even able to return to the piano. All of this is detailed in Fleisher's new autobiography, "My Nine Lives: A Memoir of Many Careers in Music." As one reviewer has noted of this volume in Booklist: "For many, Leon Fleisher may be more famous for the injury to his right hand that curtailed his piano concertizing for 30 years than for the sublime playing that made him one of the world's foremost pianists. He details the near-madness the injury caused him and, subsequently, after endless therapies, the successful cure through Botox and Rolfing. More important, though, he shares a life led near the epicenter of the musical world for more than six decades, starting with his Carnegie Hall debut in 1944 at age 16 and including lessons with piano eminence Artur Schnabel, a fruitful musical relationship with conductor George Szell, associations with the great pianists of the day, conducting, teaching, and his performance approaches to signal works in the canon, which are thoughtfully handled in 'Master Class' subsections. [This book is] a winning volume for musicians and music fans both."