A young Lucien Leinfelder playing piano before his Parkinson's diagnosis

Piano Keys and Parkinson’s: A Story of Determination Against Disease

  • Leinfelder 10 yrs old at the piano.

A tremor, slowed movement, rigid muscles, impaired posture or balance — all characteristic signs of Parkinson’s disease. But all of those telltale symptoms simply melt away once classically-trained concert pianist Lucien Leinfelder’s fingers hit the piano keys.

Doctors diagnosed Leinfelder with Parkinson’s disease at age 60 and told him that he would never be able to play again. But, 18 years later, the pianist, with “the hands of an angel,” does not let Parkinson’s keep him from playing the instrument he learned at age three.

During his long career Leinfelder has studied at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, played concerts across the globe, appeared alongside famous musicians and Hollywood starlets, and performed as a soloist with the Dallas Symphony.  But now he enjoys performing for a different crowd: the physicians, nurses, staff, patients and visitors at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, where he also receives treatment.

“Dr. Anna Tseng, Lucien’s neurologist, knew Lucien practiced every day for hours,” says Kathryn MacDonell, neuroscience program manager at Texas Health Dallas. “She asked him what he wanted to do with his music, and his response was to play for people and share his music.”

Knowing that sharing his talents with an audience would positively impact his well-being, Tseng reached out to MacDonell to find an opportunity for Lucien to play at Texas Health Dallas.

“Hours of practicing and performing built his muscle memory,” says Anna Tseng, M.D. “His fingers almost take on a life of their own, where they remember the notes he’s played so well throughout his life. It’s almost as if they come out and take off by themselves.”

Leinfelder now performs weekly at Texas Health Dallas, and for the last couple of years, he has gained a following of fans who love his talent as much as his courage.

“Lucien’s talent is incomparable,” says Sonya Manibusan, manager of volunteer services at Texas Health Dallas. “Lucien’s music heals those who are sick in body, mind and spirit … patients and guests alike.”

Now, Leinfelder gets to broaden his audience and potential fan base with the release of a documentary detailing his incredible journey. The video, “Lucien Leinfelder: The Pianist Who Played Through Parkinson’s,” details his determination to overcome personal and professional obstacles, and conveys the challenge of playing the piano while battling Parkinson’s and continuing to inspire others.

“It is a moving tribute to an incredibly talented man and musician,” MacDonell says. “Lucien’s journey from his youth to present day will make your heart swell with admiration for his strong determination to give the world beautiful music.”

To commemorate the film’s launch and to tell Leinfelder’s story, the documentary will be presented in a special public viewing hosted by Texas Health Dallas on January 16, 2018. The gala event will be held at the Perot Theater from 5 to 7 p.m. and all attendees will have the opportunity to meet him.

“Undeniably, Lucien is an inspiration for all of us! Despite his chronic condition, he continues to live out his dream of giving the world beautiful music,” MacDonell says. “We are richer for his presence at Texas Health Dallas and inspired by his commitment to brighten the days of patients and staff.”

To learn more about the documentary and the gala held at Texas Health Dallas, or to RSVP, please contact Sonya Manibusan at 214-345-7581 or SonyaManibusan@TexasHealth.org. Seating is limited. To stay up to date with Lucien and the event, you can follow his Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/LucienLeinfelder/

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