Oscar-Nominated Short on Leon Fleisher Airs Aug. 2 on Cinemax

Classic Arts News   Oscar-Nominated Short on Leon Fleisher Airs Aug. 2 on Cinemax
The documentary short by Nathaniel Kahn, Two Hands, nominated for a 2006 Academy Award, airs tonight on Cinemax at 7:00 p.m Eastern time (check local listings).

In the 17-minute film, pianist Leon Fleisher speaks about the despair and triumphs he has experienced due to focal dystonia, a neurological condition that caused two digits in his right hand to curl early in his career, forcing him to retire at 36.

Fleisher turned to teaching, conducting and the left-hand piano repertoire. In 1982, after tendonitis surgery, he performed Franck's Symphonic Variations with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in an ostensible return to traditional two-handed repertoire.

"I remember being backstage in the dressing room before going out ... and bursting into tears," recalled Fleisher, realizing further treatment was needed for a more complete recovery.

In recent years, Botox injections and Rolfing have enabled him to resume a regular performing career.

"The extraordinary joys and pleasures that have come from teaching, and through the left-hand literature and through conducting ... I don't think I would give those experiences and joys up."

Feature prominently in the film is an arrangement of "Sheep May Safely Graze" from Bach's secular cantata, Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd!, BWV 208, played by Fleisher.

Repeats of Two Hands will follow on August 20 and 31. Visit www.cinemax.com for more information.

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