My Nine Lives: A Memoir of Many Careers in Music

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Doubleday, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 325 pages
20 Reviews
The stirring memoir of one of the greatest pianists of the postwar era—an inspiring tale of triumph over crippling incapacity that rivals Shine.

The pianist Leon  Fleisher—whose student–teacher lineage linked him to Beethoven by way of his instructor, Artur Schnabel—displayed an exceptional gift from his earliest years. And then, like the hero of a Greek tragedy, he was struck down in his prime: at thirty-six years old, he suddenly and mysteri­ously became unable to use two fingers of his right hand.

It is not just Fleisher’s thirty-year search for a cure that drives this remarkable memoir. With his coauthor, celebrated music critic Anne Midgette, the pianist explores the depression that engulfed him as his condition worsened and, perhaps most powerfully of all, the sheer love of music that rescued him from complete self-destruction.

Miraculously, at the age of sixty-six, Fleisher was diagnosed with focal dystonia, and cured by experimental Botox injections. In 2003, he returned to Carnegie Hall to give his first two-handed recital in over three decades, bringing down the house.

Sad, reflective, but ultimately triumphant, My Nine Lives com­bines the glamour, pathos, and courage of Fleisher’s life with real musical and intellectual substance. Fleisher embodies the resilience of the human spirit, and his memoir proves that true passion always finds a way.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - laytonwoman3rd - LibraryThing

Leon Fleisher was a child prodigy at the piano. By the time he was nine years old, he was dreaming of studying with Artur Schnabel, who never took on a student so young. Through the subterfuge of a ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Jeanomario - LibraryThing

I generally like reading memoirs about people who are anything other than musicians. As a professional musician, I have difficulty reading books like this, but I slogged through it and found things to ... Read full review

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About the author (2010)

Born in San Francisco, LEON FLEISHER made his Carnegie Hall debut at sixteen. He was Musical America’s Instrumentalist of the Year in 1994; the sub­ject of the 2006 Oscar-nominated short documentary Two Hands: The Leon Fleisher Story; and a 2007 Kennedy Center Honoree. He continues to tour the world on an ambitious performance schedule.

A Yale graduate, ANNE MIDGETTE reviewed classical music for the New York Times before becoming chief classical music critic for the Washington Post.

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