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Self-taught pianists (Read 18078 times)

Offline libervir

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Self-taught pianists
« on: December 16, 2004, 03:02:02 AM »
Do you guys know of any self-taught professional concert pianists?

I'd like to know how many on this board are actually self-taught, too.

Offline SteinwayTony

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #1 on: December 16, 2004, 05:58:30 AM »
Gould claims to have been self-taught, but one of his biographers says otherwise.  Read for yourself:

http://www.mvdaily.com/articles/2004/08/gouldpianist.htm

Offline xvimbi

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #2 on: December 16, 2004, 01:59:25 PM »
Alfred Brendel

Offline mound

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #3 on: December 16, 2004, 02:30:26 PM »
Alfred Brendel

you beat me to it! was just going to say that.. to add to it (from his website)

Self-taught

His father then went to Zagreb and became the director of a cinema. Here Alfred Brendel was given his first piano lessons at the age of six from Sofia Dezelic (he also appeared at a children's theatre in Zagreb) and had a succession of early teachers as the family moved on, returning after the War to a place near Graz where Brendel pere worked in a department store.
Here Alfred studied at the Graz Conservatory with Ludovika von Kaan (who had studied with one of Liszt's more illustrious pupils, Bernhard Stavenhagen) as well as private composition lessons with Artur Michl, a local organist and composer. After the age of sixteen, the little formal training he had had came to an end. He had no further teachers. To this day, Alfred Brendel regards his unconventional musical background as something of an advantage.

"A teacher can be too influential," he feels. "Being self-taught, I learned to distrust anything I hadn't figured out myself." More valuable than teachers was listening to other pianists, conductors and singers - and himself. Presented with a Revox tape-recorder (now an antediluvian machine but still in working order), Brendel learnt by recording the piece he was studying, listening to himself and reacting to it. "I still think that for young people today this is a very good way to get on," he says, "and it makes some of the functions of a teacher obsolete."*
----------

Interesting though, he did have lessons in some fashion for 10 years, yet he still considers himself self-taught..

-Paul

Offline Goldberg

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #4 on: December 16, 2004, 03:11:29 PM »
I took piano lessons for about 5 and a half years, including approx. two and a half with two separate teachers at Rice University's prep department. Just a few months ago, however, I quit, and have been self taught ever since.

Offline allchopin

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #5 on: December 16, 2004, 08:55:41 PM »
I'm an independent  :P

Goldberg: How was the faculty at Rice?  I planned on going to the Shepherd school - not sure how good it was.  Did you like it?
A modern house without a flush toilet... uncanny.

Offline steinwaymodeld

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #6 on: December 16, 2004, 09:28:15 PM »
Godowsky and Busoni.
Perfection itself is imperfection - Vladimir Horowitz

Offline chickering9

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #7 on: December 16, 2004, 09:39:46 PM »
The story about Brendel and the Revox is interesting.  I do much the same, even using an old 10-inch reel 4-track tape.  I am self-taught, but don't aspire to be a professional, but do aspire to a level of professionalism in my limited repertoire.  The tape really is a good objective way to hear what's not always evident amid the performance, both good and bad.

Offline Nordlys

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #8 on: December 16, 2004, 10:31:50 PM »
...Alfred Brendel was given his first piano lessons at the age of six from Sofia Dezelic (he also appeared at a children's theatre in Zagreb) and had a succession of early teachers as the family moved on, returning after the War to a place near Graz where Brendel pere worked in a department store.
Here Alfred studied at the Graz Conservatory with Ludovika von Kaan (who had studied with one of Liszt's more illustrious pupils, Bernhard Stavenhagen) as well as private composition lessons with Artur Michl, a local organist and composer. After the age of sixteen, the little formal training he had had came to an end...

...Interesting though, he did have lessons in some fashion for 10 years, yet he still considers himself self-taught..

-Paul


 :)  Funny. I wouldnt exactly call this self taught.

I believe Sviatoslav Richter was largely selftaught when he at the age of 18 gave his first official recital. Afterwards he enrolled into the Moscow conservatory to study with Neuhaus, but he must have learned all the basics before that. Neuhaus didnt have to speak about technique with him, only discuss musical things, and according to his book even that was superfluous.


Offline Goldberg

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #9 on: December 16, 2004, 11:07:42 PM »
I'm the exact same as Chickering (although when I record myself I use digital equipment!), at least as far as our ambitions go.

allchopin: I haven't had much experience with other universities (none, in fact...) but I can say I was very impressed with the Rice faculty (I also think I remember you talking about your plans to go there). MY original teacher--no names mentioned--was a little eccentric and evidently quite busy, and I quit lessons after he developed a habit of showing up 45 minutes late (for an hour lesson...after an hour's drive down to Rice...bleh). But even he, when he was there, was very knowledgeable and a good teacher. I don't want to inadvertantly give the faculty a bad name, however; I met a good deal of the other teachers, most of whom don't really teach prep kids, and even saw Dr. Roux (the big cheese on the faculty) perform the Rach 2. Excellent quality overall! Jon Kimura Parker and Brian Connelly were two others that impressed me considerably, based mostly on performances but also on a few brief meetings with them (no lessons, however).

My second teacher was not actually on the faculty, though. He is still an adjunct professor there, despite having a Ph.D and several highly honourable degrees from Poland, his native country. I also had advanced theory classes and, later, private theory tutoring from a total of 4 different teachers from various backgrounds and enjoyed each one.

In short...yes, it's a great group of teachers.

Offline chromatickler

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #10 on: December 17, 2004, 01:57:24 PM »
teacherz hinder da SPEED of yo progress.

 8)

Offline mound

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #11 on: December 17, 2004, 07:08:19 PM »
teacherz hinder da SPEED of yo progress.

 8)

yes, I hope you're joking :)

I record myself quite often. Once the piece is memorized, and I begin the polishing stages, I record myself (digitally, using a laptop and Sonar) and then I listen back and write down extensive notes about problem spots.. I then devote practice sessions to "fixing" every item on the list.. Then a week or so later I'll record a full performance of it again and repeat the same process. It's hugely beneficial!

-Paul

Offline SteinwayTony

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #12 on: December 17, 2004, 08:03:32 PM »


you beat me to it! was just going to say that.. to add to it (from his website)

Self-taught

His father then went to Zagreb and became the director of a cinema. Here Alfred Brendel was given his first piano lessons at the age of six from Sofia Dezelic (he also appeared at a children's theatre in Zagreb) and had a succession of early teachers as the family moved on, returning after the War to a place near Graz where Brendel pere worked in a department store.
Here Alfred studied at the Graz Conservatory with Ludovika von Kaan (who had studied with one of Liszt's more illustrious pupils, Bernhard Stavenhagen) as well as private composition lessons with Artur Michl, a local organist and composer. After the age of sixteen, the little formal training he had had came to an end. He had no further teachers. To this day, Alfred Brendel regards his unconventional musical background as something of an advantage.

"A teacher can be too influential," he feels. "Being self-taught, I learned to distrust anything I hadn't figured out myself." More valuable than teachers was listening to other pianists, conductors and singers - and himself. Presented with a Revox tape-recorder (now an antediluvian machine but still in working order), Brendel learnt by recording the piece he was studying, listening to himself and reacting to it. "I still think that for young people today this is a very good way to get on," he says, "and it makes some of the functions of a teacher obsolete."*
----------

Interesting though, he did have lessons in some fashion for 10 years, yet he still considers himself self-taught..

-Paul

Arrau's only teacher besides his mother died when he was 16, and he never had another teacher.

Offline SteinwayTony

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #13 on: December 17, 2004, 08:05:58 PM »


yes, I hope you're joking :)

I record myself quite often. Once the piece is memorized, and I begin the polishing stages, I record myself (digitally, using a laptop and Sonar) and then I listen back and write down extensive notes about problem spots.. I then devote practice sessions to "fixing" every item on the list.. Then a week or so later I'll record a full performance of it again and repeat the same process. It's hugely beneficial!

-Paul

I'd like to start doing this.  What is Sonar, how does it work?

Offline bravuraoctaves

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #14 on: December 17, 2004, 08:53:50 PM »
Godowsky was self taught.

Offline Goldberg

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #15 on: December 18, 2004, 06:02:55 AM »
SteinwayTony: there are many ways to record yourself, and to me, digitally is the best way to go, purely for convenience's sake. When I first started doing it--very early on in my "career", I did it on a cheapy tape deck from the early 70's that my dad had lying around and with very cheap tapes (actually, come to think of it, the tape deck is reasonably advanced and capable of a lot of things, but I think it'd be worth next to nothing nowadays, and it is by no means professional equipment). From there, I used, briefly, an MP3 recorder...one of the iRiver models, with the built-in microphone. It cost me about $130, but the actual construction of the device proved very flimsy and it wasn't long before the joystick essentially wore down...and, besides, the recording quality was never that great to begin with.

But THEN, eventually, my very kind and thoughtful (most of the time) dad got me some relatively advanced equipment for Christmas, including two microphones, stands, software, and a mechanical interface to hook it all up. I'm not absolutely certain, but I've estimated the total cost of the system to be around $500, not including the computer, which needs to be quite advanced to run the software programs.

Now, my point...the software that I use is a "basic" version of ProTools, which is used to capture and do minor editting to sounds brought in through the microphones and mechanical interface. It works very well for my purposes, and like I said, it comes packaged in with the interface (which, I believe, is called Lexicon Omega). Sonar is a similar program, but it seems to me--although I've only had limited experience with Cakewalk (the company who makes it)--that Sonar is quite a bit more advanced, even in its simplest forms. Cubase is another popular program along the same lines. Both of these can get very expensive, depending on which version you buy ($300 for one of the cheaper ones), but the reason is better quality in sound capturing, editting features, sampling (whereby extremely realistic sounds can be downloaded onto the computer and then manipulated without requiring the authentic instrument itself), and more.

Well, that's generally what you're looking at.

And, yes, I know you weren't talking to me but I thought I'd chime in with a little bit of experience. Recording one's self is an excellent practice tool, and the methods you use are very trivial until you begin to want to share your music...that's why I started going digital.

Offline bernhard

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #16 on: December 19, 2004, 09:52:59 PM »
Sorry guys, to dispel the myths. But no one is self-taught. A teacher teaches, a student learns. The teacher cannot learn for the student, and the student cannot teach himself.

However, there are some people in this world who are ungrateful, unappreciative and like to give themselves airs by spitting out mythologies about themselves. It is actually quite sad, because many of these people are talented enough – some are even genius – that the truth that at some point in their lives someone – most likely a humble and unknown individual -  gave them the time and dedication to start them off should not harm the high image they have of themselves. I never liked Brendel’s playing and his personality (from what I get from interviews) also sucks.

Of course he had many teachers who taught him a lot. And now that he is a famous pianist and the teacher that had to put up with him as an insufferable brat (they all are) could say: “Look: he was my student”, Brendel goes on to say that he never had any teacher. This is mean and petty. However he will wax lyrical about “my teacher Edwin Fisher” (actually the title of one of the chapters in one of his books), when he had perhaps  5 or 6 masterclasses with Fisher in his late 20s. Why does he say Fisher was his teacher? Simple: Fisher was famous and Brendel is a name-dropper.

The maximum someone can say is that they are self-learned. But then aren’t we all ? (so there you are: not glamorous enough).

So here are the facts regarding the other pianists mentioned:

Busoni:

His father was the virtuoso clarinetist Ferdinando Busoni and his mother,  the concert pianist Anna Weiss-Busoni. Ferruccio's unusual gifts were recognized early; he received initial instruction from his parents – especially from his father -  and gave his first concert in Trieste before he was eight.

In 1876 the Busoni family settled in Graz, where Ferruccio was taught by Wilhelm Mayer, at that time a prominent composer under the pseudonym of'A. Remy'. Mayer taught Busoni until the age of twelve.

Busoni fully recognised the debt to his teachers by dedicating to Meyer (explicitly mentioned as his teacher) his Preludio e fugo Op.7 for organ, a prelude on a ground and double fugue on a chorale.

As for his father teaching, he reminisced later in life:

“For four consecutive hours a dayhe would sit with me at the piano forte with an eye on every note and every finger”

You can read the details here:

http://www.rodoni.ch/busoni/Busoni_Bio.pdf

Gould:

A site has already been provided about Gould’s teachers (first his mother and then most importantly Alberto Guerreiro – besides others)

Godowsky:

His first teacher was his adoptive father Louis Passinock, an amateur violinist who ran a piano shop and his wife Minna, who played the piano. Louis taught him the violin, and Minna the rudiments of the piano.

At 12 he studied under Woldemar Bargiel, Ernst Rudorff and Joseph Joachim, at the Berlin High School of Music (Hochschule).

Although he had plans to study with Liszt, Liszt died, and instead Saint Saens accepted him as a pupil. Godowsky was 16 years old.

Let us make no mistakes here, Yes, Godovsky was a child prodigy. Yes, he was probably a handful for his teachers, and yes he quickly learned everything they had to teach and far surpassed them. But self-taught? Hardly. Being an ungrateful b****d and wanting to perpetuate the myth that he was self-taught (it impresses the ignoramus) he claimed that “I played a lot for Saint Saens,  but Saint Saens never taught me anything.”

Richter:

Richter’s father was a piano teacher and concert pianist. His mother played the piano (she was originally one of her father’s students). His parent’s house was a meeting point of musicians. He started learning the piano at age 8. His mother, then his father taught him. He had great respect for his father both as a teacher and as a musician. The idea that he never learned any piano from anyone until he met Newhaus in his 20s is preposterous. What was probably originally meant is that he never had any “formal” training in the sense that he never attended a conservatory or music school, until enrolling in the Conservatory under Newhaus. But then this was quite common. Even now it is not unheard off. One example is Charles Rosen who at age 11 dropped music school and only attended private lessons (he never attended a conservatory and this did not stop him from becoming a concert pianist and a music scholar).

My source for Richter is… Richter himself! He tells it all in the Bruno Monsangeon documentary “Richter the enigma”.

But people are never satisfied with the simple truth. They have to embellish. Many times the artist himself adds to the myth (Vladimir de Pachmann  for instance was always telling tall stories about himself).

Also have a look here for a similar discussion:

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,3689.0.html

Every time you come across a pianist/composer that you believ was selftaught google this: "composer/pianist's name teachers". It is not that difficult. ;)

Best wishes,
Bernhard.



The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline Nordlys

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #17 on: December 19, 2004, 11:38:22 PM »

About Richter: It is quite interesting. We always hear that Neuhaus was the teacher of Richter, but he had clearly learned a lot before that.

Bernhard, I agree with what you say. But is it impossible to be self-taught? I wonder if for some it is possible to survive without having a teacher in the usual sense. I notice that good musicians most often have parents who also are musicians or at least play themselves. This could be explained as heredity, but I think it is more because the child grow up with the piano or the music, and hear and see maybe every day someone playing. This is in a way some kind of teaching; by setting an example and being a role model. I think children can learn a lot this way. Some really talented children might not need much direct instruction at all. I know that I learned a lot simply from watching my teacher play and demonstrate, and not just from what he said.

But I definitely don't think anybody learns to play by him/her self just out of the blue.



Offline Jeremy C.

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #18 on: December 27, 2004, 06:36:31 PM »
I'm self taught, but now I study with a professer

Offline pies

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­
«Reply #19 on: December 28, 2004, 04:40:55 AM »
­

Offline sirpazhan

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #20 on: December 30, 2004, 12:58:54 AM »
Yanni

He was self-taught -- check it out:

http://www.yanni.com/about/bio.asp

He is probably the most richest and most accomplished pianist/composer out there,,
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Offline James_Robert

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #21 on: December 30, 2004, 08:20:25 PM »
It is almost certaintly true that noone is completely self-taught. But the implication in the question is whether a human being was ever involved in helping someone learn to play.  I have played for over 30 years and never in that time has anyone ever been there to give me any advice or help.  I most definitely would be better if there had been but that is another story.  The point is I learned from a variety of sources. It could be said that the authors of the early music books I used were my teachers.  I learned from recordings I have listened to. The same from editors notes for pieces of music I have workrd on.  I am learning a great deal from reading this forum.  I continue to learn on my own everyday that I play.  So who is my teacher? It really doesn't matter as long as I keep learning.  Bernhard's use of the term self-learned is a little awkward but probably the most accurate description for those of us without "teachers" by our side.  James

Offline Hmoll

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #22 on: December 30, 2004, 08:41:55 PM »
Yanni

He was self-taught -- check it out:

http://www.yanni.com/about/bio.asp

He is probably the most richest and most accomplished pianist/composer out there,,

Here's a clue: bios on people's websites are always somewhat exagerated.
Yanni's got his share of shekels, but as far as being the most accomplished? Don't make me laugh.
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Offline Mayla

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #23 on: December 30, 2004, 10:27:11 PM »
.
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Offline Bob

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #24 on: December 30, 2004, 11:21:05 PM »
I think a teacher will always have an influence on their student.

I don't think professionals mind much if legends and myths develop about them.

I do think you can have a teacher and not get much influence from them. 

Some of this has to do with what you consider teaching, being a student, lessons, etc.

(mind wanders... :-[)
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline sirpazhan

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #25 on: January 02, 2005, 10:41:14 AM »


Here's a clue: bios on people's websites are always somewhat exagerated.
Yanni's got his share of shekels, but as far as being the most accomplished? Don't make me laugh.

20+ million copies worldwide (35 Gold and Platinum album awards),,, I'd say that's pretty accomplished,, I dont see Horowitz's, Alfred Brendel etc.. etc.. throw numbers like that..  I never said he is a technical pianist who goes around playing beethoven's hammerklavier -- Yanni is a 'composer' who just plays piano riffs.
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Offline Inscape

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #26 on: January 04, 2005, 05:05:54 PM »
I think we can all agree that the first pianist was self-taught.


Offline Etude

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #27 on: January 04, 2005, 07:38:20 PM »
I think we can all agree that the first pianist was self-taught.

The first pianist was probably taught the Harpsichord.

Offline nanoc

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #28 on: January 05, 2005, 01:28:24 PM »


you beat me to it! was just going to say that.. to add to it (from his website)

Self-taught

His father then went to Zagreb and became the director of a cinema. Here Alfred Brendel was given his first piano lessons at the age of six from Sofia Dezelic (he also appeared at a children's theatre in Zagreb) and had a succession of early teachers as the family moved on, returning after the War to a place near Graz where Brendel pere worked in a department store.
Here Alfred studied at the Graz Conservatory with Ludovika von Kaan (who had studied with one of Liszt's more illustrious pupils, Bernhard Stavenhagen) as well as private composition lessons with Artur Michl, a local organist and composer. After the age of sixteen, the little formal training he had had came to an end. He had no further teachers. To this day, Alfred Brendel regards his unconventional musical background as something of an advantage.



It seems that he had a lot of professional training, though.....


If I don't remember bad... Georgy Cziffra was part self taught

Me too, but i'd give my left arm to play as well as Cziffra... wait a minute... if i don't have a left arm.... how am i suposed to play like him?????  Oh...

Offline bernhard

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #29 on: January 05, 2005, 11:06:12 PM »
I think we can all agree that the first pianist was self-taught.



And boy, did he suck!
 ;D ;)
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline bernhard

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #30 on: January 05, 2005, 11:07:38 PM »



It seems that he had a lot of professional training, though.....


If I don't remember bad... Georgy Cziffra was part self taught

Me too, but i'd give my left arm to play as well as Cziffra... wait a minute... if i don't have a left arm.... how am i suposed to play like him?????  Oh...

You will still be able to play as well as Paul Wittgenstein or Leon Fleisher ;D
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline xvimbi

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Re: Self-taught pianists
«Reply #31 on: January 05, 2005, 11:42:01 PM »


You will still be able to play as well as Paul Wittgenstein or Leon Fleisher ;D

Actually, Fleisher got back into business playing with both hands. His latest CD is even called "Two Hands". Seems he can really joke about himself. And he is not bad, given his age and the long absence from two-handed play, as I will hopefully find out soon.