Archive for Thursday, May 28, 1998


May 28, 1998


Many of the artist's former students, colleagues and friends will attend the five-day workshop.

The annual Evelyn Swarthout Hayes Piano Institute at Kansas University will be held Monday through June 5 and celebrate the 70th birthday of American pianist-conductor Leon Fleisher.

A former pianist-in-residence in the KU department of music and dance, Fleisher holds the Andrew W. Mellon Chair in Piano at the Peabody Conservatory of Music.

Christopher Hepp, an associate professor of piano who directs the KU piano institute, said many of Fleisher's former students, colleagues and friends will attend to pay tribute to the artist.

Also attending will be the institute's namesake, Evelyn Swarthout Hayes, daughter of former KU Dean of Fine Arts Donald Swarthout, and her husband, Patrick Hayes of Washington, D.C. The Hayeses are longtime friends of Fleisher.

During the five-day workshop, daily sessions will feature master classes, conversations, and presentations on Fleisher's career. Nightly recitals will be held at 7:30 pm. in Swarthout Recital Hall.

The line-up for the evening recitals includes:

  • Monday: David Allen Wehr, artist-in-residence at Ouachita Baptist University, Sylvia Henry, assistant professor of piano at Ohio University-Athens, Mark Puckett, associate professor of music at Hardin-Simmons University, and Linda Maxey, a concert marimbist and former visiting faculty at KU.
  • Tuesday: Concert pianist Yael Weiss and Enrique Graf, a member of the artist faculty at the College of Charleston School of the Arts.
  • Wednesday: Ann Schein, a member of the artist faculty at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, and Robert Weirich, associate professor of piano at Syracuse University.
  • June 4: ``Friends of Fleisher.''

At age 14 Fleisher was a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and, at 16, with the New York Philharmonic. In 1952 he was the first American to win the Queen Elisabeth of Belgium Musical Concourse. He joined the Peabody music faculty in 1959, combining teaching with international tours as a piano soloist.

In 1964 Fleisher lost the use of his right hand when a neurological aliment caused his fingers to curl. He played works written for the left hand, but more and more turned to conducting. In 1968 he was named artistic director of the Theatre Chamber Players in Washington, D.C., then in 1970 as musical director of the Annapolis Symphony.

After serving as associate conductor, then conductor of the Baltimore Symphony, Fleisher made a triumphant comeback as a two-handed piano soloist in 1982. In 1986 he was named artistic director of the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood.

Last season, Fleisher played Brahms' ``First Concerto'' with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and toured internationally, performing in Seattle, Minneapolis, San Francisco and throughout Europe.

Tickets for the recitals will be available at the door.

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