THE FLEISHER-JACOBSON PIANO DUO
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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.
Celebrating Leon Fleisher's 90th year in the 2018-2019 season, The Duo looks forward to appearances at Carnegie Hall, Washington Performing Arts (Kennedy Center), San Francisco Performances, and Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, as well as at the Tanglewood and Ravinia festivals, among others.
“You can't see music as it passes through the air. You can't grasp it and hold on to it. You can't smell it. You can't taste it. But it has a most powerful effect on most people. And that is a wondrous thing to contemplate.”
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 17-minute 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," which reached # 1 on the classical charts.
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.
Mr. Fleisher continues with an international schedule of performances, orchestral guest conducting and master classes. In recent seasons, he has conducted leading orchestras in the U.S., Canada, China, and Japan; appeared as concerto soloist with orchestras including the Baltimore and Cincinnati Symphonies; performed as recitalist worldwide; and given his memorable master classes at festivals, conservatories, and universities around the country.
In celebration of his 90th year, he appeared in Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal as soloist with the Toronto Symphony and Peter Oundjian and at the Gilmore Festival. In 2018-2019 he continues the celebration with recitals at Carnegie Hall, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, as well as at the Ravinia and Tanglewood Festivals in Summer 2018.
A Minnesota native, pianist Katherine Jacobson's career as soloist, duo pianist, and chamber musician has received international acclaim. Orchestras with which she has appeared include the Chicago Symphony at Ravinia, Philadelphia Orchestra, New York String Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony and the Orchestre National de Paris. Her summer festival appearances include the Marlboro Music Festival, Tanglewood, Ravinia, Aspen, Schleswig-Holstein, Aldeburgh, Music Academy of the West, Oslo Chamber Music Festival, and the Miyazaki Music Festival in Japan. Katherine Jacobson and Leon Fleisher combined forces to form the Fleisher-Jacobson Piano Duo, giving concerts worldwide.
Steinway Classics recently released Ms. Jacobson's solo CD on their digital online label. She recorded the Mozart "Concerto for Three Pianos," K. 242 in the two-piano version with Leon Fleisher and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra (Sony) as well as the CD "Four Hands" with Leon Fleisher. (Sony)
Katherine Jacobson studied with Vitya Vronsky at The Cleveland Institute of Music and was inspired by the duo piano team of Vronsky and Babin. Her main musical influence was her mentor and future husband Leon Fleisher, with whom she worked at the Peabody Conservatory.
Ms. Jacobson serves on the faculty of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University.