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Pianist who lost use of hand releases recording

AMERICAN pianist Leon Fleisher's right hand is one of the most famous in music.

In the mid-1960s the superstar of the classical music world lost the ability to play with the hand when two fingers became immobile due to a condition called focal dystonia.

After 30 years of teaching, conducting and playing music composed for the left hand, Fleisher regained the use of his right hand after treatment involving botox injections.

The first recording since his rehabilitation came in 2004, and now the 80-year-old has released a recording of Mozart piano concertos including one where he performs with his wife.

He said the choice of music was partly dictated by physical limitations.

"I am still a dystonic, if you will," Fleisher said in a telephone interview from the United States.

"I have focal dystonia and although I take treatments that help minimize the effects of it, nothing cures it, at least not yet, so I have to pick and choose my repertoire.

"I'm not a spring chicken. I don't know what is the dystonia and what is the toll of years."

Despite the deep depression he suffered when forced to "retire" at 37, Fleisher said the experience had brought rewards.

"There are moments in my life when I think back on this whole soap opera (and) I am not so sure, if I had the chance, that I would change anything," he said. "It forced me to expand my horizons."


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