Peabody Conservatory receives $1 million to launch Leon Fleisher Studio Scholarship

Baltimore arts patrons Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker have donated $1 million to the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University to establish scholarships for students of near-legendary pianist and veteran Peabody faculty artist Leon Fleisher.

In a statement released Monday, Meyerhoff called the 85-year-old Fleisher "quite simply, one of the great musicians of our time," one who "attracts stellar pianistic talents to the Peabody Institute from all over the world."

The new donation follows the $1 million Meyerhoff and Becker donated in recent years to support an endowment for undergraduate piano scholarships.

Fleisher, who started teaching at the conservatory in 1959, said he is "inexpressibly touched by the faith and generosity of both Bob and Rheda. It is an enormous responsibility, and I will do everything that I can to prove worthy of their confidence."

The pianist, described by incoming Peabody dean Fred Bronstein as "an iconic figure in the musical world," lost the use of his right hand due to focal dystonia in 1965, but continued to perform left-hand repertoire and develop a successful career as a conductor. Fleisher resumed limited two-hand playing in recent years, thanks to advances in medical treatment.

His decades on the Peabody faculty has generated a long list of successful pianists, including the esteemed Andre Watts.

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