Established in 1972 by the Peabody Institute with funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Image Credit: Trinity Court Studio ANDREW W. MELLON, born in 1855, was a financier, diplomat, and industrialist. Mr. Mellon helped found the Union Trust Company of Pittsburgh, the Gulf Oil Corporation, and the Pittsburgh Coal Company. In 1921, he left the presidency of the Mellon National Bank to become U.S. secretary of the treasury, serving for ten years under presidents Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. He later served as ambassador to Great Britain during 1932-33. Upon his death in 1937, Mr. Mellon left his vast collection of art to create the National Gallery of Art and enough funds for the construction of the building on the Washington, D.C., mall. Four chairs at Hopkins are named for Andrew W. Mellon, two at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, one at the Peabody Conservatory, and one at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.


The ANDREW W. MELLON FOUNDATION endowed the Andrew W. Mellon Professorship in the Humanities at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences to "strengthen the influence of the humanities in the education programs" of The Johns Hopkins University. The Andrew W. Mellon Chair in Piano was created to strengthen the Peabody Conservatory. The Mellon Foundation makes grants on a selective basis to institutions in higher education, in cultural affairs and the performing arts, in population, in conservation and the environment, and in public affairs.


As a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2007, LEON FLEISHER was recognized as a "consummate musician whose career is a testament to the life-affirming power of art." Mr. Fleisher is the inaugural holder of the Andrew W. Mellon Chair in Piano. He made his debut with the New York Philharmonic at age 16, and in 1952, was the first American to win first prize in the Queen Elisabeth of Belgium Competition. The Fleisher recordings of all five Beethoven concertos, made in the 1950s, are still regarded as definitive. When a problem with his right hand developed in the 1960s, Mr. Fleisher turned to piano repertoire for the left hand, to chamber music and to conducting. He served as artistic director of the Tanglewood Music Center from 1985 to 1997. In his four decades at Peabody, his studio has attracted students from around the world. As a teacher, he has carried on a tradition that descends directly from Beethoven himself, handed down generationally through Carl Czerny, Theodor Leschititsky, Artur Schnabel, and Leon Fleisher himself. In 2002, he received the title honorary professor at the Shanghai Conservatory. In 2006, in Paris, Leon Fleisher received the honor of Commander in the Order of Arts and Letters by the Minister of Culture of the French government. In the mid-'90s, he regained sufficient use of his right hand, leading to an extraordinary career renaissance. In 2003, Mr. Fleisher joined forces with his wife, pianist Katherine Jacobson, to form the Fleisher-Jacobson Duo, giving concerts world-wide and recording for Sony Classical. Leon Fleisher released the album Two Hands in 2004, which went on to hold a Top 5 Billboard Chart position and was hailed by critics as one of the best recordings of the year. Two Hands is also the title of the Oscar nominated documentary film about his amazing life story. In 2013, Sony Classical issued a 23-CD box set of his entire recorded output, and in 2014, Fleisher released his first solo CD in a decade, the Grammy nominated All The Things You Are. At age 86, in addition to his teaching at Peabody, Mr. Fleisher continues with an international schedule of master classes, performances, and orchestral guest conducting.