Vladimir Horowitz

“I am a 19th-century Romantic. I am the last. I take terrible risks. Because my playing is very clear, when I make a mistake, you hear it. But…I am never afraid to dare. The music is behind those dots. You search for it…[and] I play, so to speak, from the other side of the score, looking back.’‘
– Vladimir Horowitz

Our first Persona is Vladimir Horowitz, who is Peiharn’s teacher’s teacher (wow). Mr. Horowitz was considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th Century, and was nick-named The Last Romantic, because he was one of the last performers to play in a big, exuberant, emotional style. This means, that although sometimes he played some wrong notes, his performances were always very lively and full of emotion.

Emanuel Ax, another famous pianist, said that Mr. Horowitz “brought the idea of excitement in piano playing to a higher pitch than anyone I’ve ever heard. For me the fascinating thing was a sense of complete control, and on the other hand, the feeling that everything was just on the verge of going haywire. It never did go over that line, but there was the sense of an unbelievable energy being harnessed, and the feeling that if he ever let it go, it would burn up the hall.’’

Vladimir Horowitz was born in Ukraine on October 1, 1903. When he was nine years old, he enrolled in the Kiev Conservatory. At fifteen, he made his concerto debut, playing Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, one of the hardest and beloved pieces in the piano repertoire. Mr. Horowitz made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1928. From there the rest is history!

Mr. Horowitz made many recordings, played many performances worldwide, and worked with many famous musicians including Arturo Toscanini. He is famous for his interpretations of many pieces, including the Liszt Piano Sonata in B minor, his transcription of Sousa’s Star’s and Stripes, and the Scarlatti Piano Sonatas.

Mr. Horowitz passed away on November 5, 1989. Many famous musicians and dignitaries were sad to hear this, including Leonard Bernstein (West Side Story) and also the President! He left a piano legacy that affected many people and continues to do so. In the words of Isaac Stern, violinist and one-time president of Carnegie Hall:

“How many musicians can say that they have created a standard against which others will be judged? It was not only the personality that was extraordinary, but his pianistic and musical accomplishments, against which piano playing in the future will be measured….

“And when you saw him playing close up, it was as if each of his 10 fingers had a separate intelligence. Each moved in its direction at the right time and with the right weight; and he sat apart, observing it and controlling it from a central organism, without great effort.”

quotes from obituary by Bernard Holland, NYtimes – Nov 6, 1989

 

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