Piano Virtuoso Plays Through Parkinson Symptoms

Lucien Leinfelder

It’s the lack of balance and slow movements in pianist Lucien Leinfelder’s hands that are noticed as he slides himself from his walker to the bench. But when he lifts his hands to play, the shaking stops and the music takes over.

The small crowd that has gathered to watch the former concert pianist play doesn’t notice that Leinfelder suffers from Parkinson’s disease.

Diagnosed at 60, now 81, he still has the power to transform a room. As a young Dallas prodigy, he won piano competitions, and went on to complete his teaching preparation at SMU. That training launched his talent and he studied at Juilliard in New York. He received critical acclaim and played concerts throughout the United States, in Puerto Rico, South America and Europe.

The New York Times described Leinfelder’s playing as “Brilliant.” He appeared with Phyllis Diller, Pearl Bailey and Lawrence Welk. Coming home, he taught piano at the University of Dallas, Ursuline Academy, and performed as a soloist with the Dallas Symphony.

“It’s all the hours of practicing and performing that built his muscle memory,” says Dr. Anna Tseng, his neurologist on staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. She encouraged him to perform beyond his living room and share his gift with others.

Leinfelder agreed. “I want to keep doing what I do best – playing a grand piano for an audience.” His repertoire is extensive, with arrangements from classical masterpieces to Broadway showpieces. There’s something for everyone.

His long fingers move fluidly and listening to him play is unforgettable. This musicality comes from a man whose life centers on two-hour windows when the medication helps stop his shaking.

Hear Leinfelder perform in the main lobby of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas at 11 a.m. on Mondays. You can’t miss him – he’s the man with the walker, dressed in black and white to match the keyboard.

To learn more about the treatment of movement disorders, visit TexasHealth.org/MovementDisordersDallas.

Physicians on the medical staff practice independently and are not employees or agents of the hospital or Texas Health Resources.

7 Comments

  1. Connie Magill
    January 30, 2014

    I own a beautiful painting by Lucien Leinfelder that I bought around 1973. If possible, please tell him that it is still one of my favorite pieces (white bird and yellow mums painted on gold leaf with a white bamboo frame). I knew that he had also been a piano player, and was very excited to find this information about him. Since I live in California now, it is doubtful that I would have a chance to hear him play, but what an honor that would be for me if I could. I also saw one of his paintings at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas and two other places in California. He has a very distinctive style. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Texas Health Resources
      January 31, 2014

      Hi Connie – thanks for your comment! We will do our best to relay your message to Lucien. If we have another post about him, we’ll try to include video so you can hear his music!
      – Tom Erickson, Web Content Specialist, Texas Health Resources

      Reply
  2. March 9, 2014

    I would love to purchase a CD of his music since I’m unable to attend the performances due to my work schedule? Is that possible? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Texas Health Resources
      March 10, 2014

      Hi Sharon: Thanks for your comment. I don’t know if Lucien’s music is available on CD, but will check and let you know.
      Tom Erickson, Web Content Specialist, Texas Health Resources

      Reply
  3. Paula Schear
    March 11, 2014

    Thanks for sharing your inspiring story, Mr Leinfelder. I graduated from SMU with an MM in pedagogy and performance. I have been teaching for 25 years now and still love it but every day has pain due to a failed back surgery. My students, the love of music and the knowledge that the Lord gives us these pains for a reason, keeps me going. I am so glad that you are still able to play after all these years and with your Parkinson’s. Music is such an amazing gift if you put the time into it. That’s why I keep making my nine year old son practice even though he doesn’t want to. Of course, what does he do as soon as we have company over? Blessings to you!

    Reply
  4. September 10, 2014

    It was a grand moment when I came across the information related to Lucien Leinfelder. We happen to be cousins. The last time that I saw Lucien was in grade school. I still remember us playing together as children in the late thirties or early forties. While he lived in Wisconsin in his early years we went to the same grade school. I had heard about his fabulous career and it is a pleasure and a privilege to be related to such an accomplished individual. If possible, please relate to him my warmest regards and best wishes for many more years of exercising his brilliant talents.
    Karl Leinfelder

    Reply
  5. Sandi Brackeen
    September 24, 2014

    I used to work in a furniture showroom that had a grand piano that was rumored to have a serial number that was three numbers from Chopin’s piano. Lucien knew several of the people that worked there, and he would stop by and play Chopin’s Polonaise in A minor for me. I also have a set of his panels, and if possible, please give him my best, and tell him that I remember him fondly and love both his music and his paintings.

    Reply

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