THE FLEISHER-JACOBSON PIANO DUO
Leon Fleisher, piano & Katherine Jacobson, piano
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Duo performances of legendary pianist and conductor Leon Fleisher with internationally renowned pianist Katherine Jacobson have received accolades from music's most respected critics. The duo performs in recital and with orchestras around the world.
Their performances of the Mozart Concerto for Two Pianos in F Major (K. 242) have been hailed in appearances in New York at Carnegie Hall, Philadelphia, Naples, Toronto, Dublin and Tokyo. In recital, the Fleisher-Jacobson Duo captivates their audiences with the musicality and brilliance of works by Mozart, Brahms, Schubert, Dvorak and Ravel. They can also be heard in four-hand works on their latest album, Four Hands, released in 2015 on Sony Classical.
In the 2016-2017 season the duo will play recitals across the United States including appearances in Lexington KY, Birmingham AL, St. Paul, MN and Baltimore, MD. The duo will also be heard performing Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos in F Major (K. 242) with the Charleston (SC) Symphony Orchestra.
As a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2007, pianist Leon Fleisher was recognized as a “consummate musician whose career is a testament to the life-affirming power of art.”
The child prodigy began to study the piano at the age of four and by the age of nine, the legendary Artur Schnabel invited him to be his student, first in Lake Como, Italy and then in New York, where he nurtured and inspired the young Mr. Fleisher for the next ten years as he evolved into one of the great music masters of our time. Leon Fleisher made his debut with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Pierre Monteux when he was sixteen years old. Maître Monteux called him “the pianistic find of the century.”
Mr. Fleisher went on to international renown, becoming the first American to win the prestigious Queen Elisabeth of Belgium Competition in Brussels in 1952. He subsequently enjoyed a prolific recording career, most notably with George Szell and The Cleveland Orchestra, recordings recognized as among the great collaborations in the concerto repertoire. In 1965, before a scheduled tour of Russia with The Cleveland Orchestra, Leon Fleisher began to suffer symptoms of a debilitating condition of his right hand, later diagnosed as focal dystonia, a neurological condition that causes the fingers to curl into the palm of the hand.
After a period of great despair, Mr. Fleisher channeled his creativity in new directions, mastering the piano repertoire for left hand and initiating a career in conducting. He renewed his dedication to teaching at Peabody, where he has been the inspiration to hundreds of students since 1959. Leon Fleisher holds the Andrew W. Mellon Chair at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. As a teacher, he has carried on a tradition that descends directly from Beethoven himself, handed down generationally through Carl Czerny, Theodor Leschetizky, Artur Schnabel and Leon Fleisher himself.
In the mid-90s, with the combined therapies of Botox injections and Rolfing, he regained sufficient use of his right hand, leading to an extraordinary career renaissance. In 2003, Mr. Fleisher joined forces with his wife, pianist Katherine Jacobson, to form the Fleisher-Jacobson Piano Duo, giving concerts world-wide and recording for Sony Classical. Leon Fleisher released the album Two Hands in 2004, which went on to hold a Top 5 Billboard Chart position and was hailed by critics as one of the best recordings of the year. Two Hands is also the title of the Oscar nominated documentary film about his amazing life story. In 2013, Sony Classical issued a 23-CD box set of his entire recorded output, and in 2014, Mr. Fleisher released his first solo CD in a decade, the Grammy-nominated All The Things You Are.
In 2006, in Paris, Leon Fleisher received the honor of Commander in the Order of Arts and Letters by the Minister of Culture of the French government.
At age 88, in addition to his teaching at Peabody, Mr. Fleisher continues with an international schedule of master classes, performances and orchestral guest conducting.
A Minnesota native, pianist Katherine Jacobson's career as soloist, duo pianist and chamber musician has received international acclaim. She has performed at the Tanglewood Music Festival, Marlboro Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Summer Festival and Miyazaki Summer Festival.
Orchestras with which she has appeared include the Chicago Symphony at Ravinia, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Shanghai Symphony, and the Orchestre National de Paris. Ms. Jacobson was recently featured on NPR's "Performance Today."
Together with Leon Fleisher, she recorded the Mozart "Concerto for Two Pianos", K. 242 with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra (Sony Classical). In 2015, the CD Four Hands was released featuring Ms. Jacobson and Mr. Fleisher (Sony Classical). They have recently commissioned a two piano concerto by composer Nicholas Jacobson-Larson.
Ms. Jacobson studied with Vitya Vronsky at the Cleveland Institute of Music and was introduced to the piano duo repertoire by the duo piano team of Vronsky and Babin. Her main musical influence was Leon Fleisher, with whom she worked at the Peabody Conservatory.
Today the Fleisher-Jacobson Duo concertizes world-wide performing piano duo repertoire. She serves on the chamber music faculty at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University.
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