Preview: Pianist Leon Fleisher

BY News Desk  July 14, 2011 at 1:41 PM EDT

Renowned pianist Leon Fleisher turns 83 later this month. Jeffrey Brown recently sat down with him at his home in Baltimore to discuss his life’s work and his recent book with music critic Anne Midgette, ‘My Nine Lives: A Memoir of Many Careers in Music.’

Among many topics, Fleisher explained how intentional listening is one of the secrets to his musical career: “Listening is the great secret….If you don’t hear before you play, what you play is an accident….You have to hear in your inner ear your goal, your ideal, what you want it to sound like.”

About his debilitating ailment — focal dystonia — Fleisher explains how he was unable to play with two hands for many years. In the excerpt below, he tells Jeffrey Brown about Austrian concert pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who became well-known for playing with just his left hand.