Friday, January 8, 2010

Inspirations - Leon Fleisher

Well, my holiday blues have carried right on over into the new year. I don’t really know what my problem is. I think I’m just feeling a little impatient about the whole insurance thing. I’ve always been that way; once I make up my mind to do something, I like to get it done right away and not mess around. This is kind of out of my hands though, so that makes me feel a little frustrated.

I finally decided that what I need, is a little inspiration. Leon Fleisher came to mind immediately. I first heard about Fleisher several months ago, before I even started this blog, and I’ve been thinking that he would be a good topic. I’m glad I waited, because I think this is the perfect time to talk about him.

Leon Fleisher, an American pianist and conductor, was born in 1928. It didn’t take long for Fleisher to discover his life-purpose, and he began studying the piano at age 4. He made his public debut at the age of 8, and played at Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic at the age of 16. Over the next twenty years, Leon Fleisher became one of the most sought-after concert pianists in the world, and his interpretations of the works of Beethoven, Brahms, and Mozart are considered some of the finest ever recorded.

Disaster struck in 1965 when Fleisher lost the use of his right hand due to a neurological disorder called focal dystonia. Instead of abandoning his stellar career at the age of 37, he became a conductor and, more importantly, a teacher. For the next forty years, Fleisher passed on his knowledge and skill to a whole new generation of musicians, and today, many of the most notable players and teachers of the piano are former students of Fleisher.

Amazingly, during his years as a teacher and conductor, Fleisher continued to play, using only his left hand. There was a series of piano concertos written for the left hand only, wich were composed for another pianist who also lost the use of his right hand. More “left-handed” piano music was written specifically for Fleisher as well. That must have seemed like such a blessing to him, although I can only imagine his frustration. How he must have longed to reach up to the keys with that useless right hand to play some of his old favorite tunes.

I think that’s a pretty amazing story. Losing the use of a hand would be such a devastating event in anyone’s life. I can only imagine how I would feel if I couldn’t play my saxophone anymore, and for me it’s only a passing hobby. Leon Fleisher didn't give up, though. Instead, he found a way to continue using the talent that God gave him, and instead of one great pianist, we now have many.

The story doesn’t quite end there. Just a few years ago, a cure for focal dystonia was found, involving a series of botox injections. For the first time in forty years, Leon Fleisher was able to play the piano with two hands. Appropriately enough, he recorded a new album in 2004 titled, “Two Hands."

The Lord certainly does work in mysterious ways. Sometimes you have to lose something, to realize what a blessing it truly is. Leon Fleisher summed it up nicely, when he said “I don’t think I would change anything that’s happened to me.”

Matthew 7:11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

1 comment:

  1. Your impatience is understandable. But remember, faith is not easy and this is what we need, PATIENCE! God knows what you need and when you need it and now this story! *wink*
    You see what patience got Mister Fleisher? Was he impatient while a cure came, no! He endured! As must you; us! We must take actions to cause the reactions and be patient while it all plays out. In the on my love! You have a talent I can only dream of, and that is your sax. Embrace the music while you patiently SEE again!!!
    I love you and am with you all the way! RIGHT BY YOUR SIDE!