Vladimir Horowitz

Piano

Schubert Club Performances:

  • March 7, 1928
  • October 30, 1928
  • May 20, 1979
  • October 18, 1981

Vladimir Horowitz

Artist note by Richard Evidon

When Vladimir Horowitz made his first Schubert Club appearance in March 1928, just a few weeks after his US debut at Carnegie Hall, the 24-year-old Kyiv-born Soviet emigré had been in the West for less than two years. When he played the last of his four Schubert Club recitals, the legendary pianist was nearing the end of a long, turbulent career that included a number of highly publicized withdrawals and comebacks. Through it all – to quote his longtime record producer Thomas Frost – he continued “expanding every aspect of piano sound, inventing a range of sonorities and colors never previously heard from a piano as well as a dynamic range from barely audible pianissimos to thunderous fortissimos, from extraordinary brilliance to touching delicacy”. Here he is in a 1928 recording of Tchaikovsky’s Dumka:

In the 1930s, when Horowitz was living in Switzerland, he was invited to the house of a mutual friend along with other pianists including Rudolf Serkin. To be polite, the host asked Horowitz if he wanted to play. He sat down at the piano and played Chopin’s G minor Ballade. Serkin said he had never heard piano playing like that. ‘It was as if Horowitz had come from another planet’.” Horowitz played that piece for Schubert Club audiences in 1928 and 1981 as well as in his televised 1968 recital at Carnegie Hall, from which this clip is taken:

Horowitz adored Scarlatti and played his works in virtually every recital. Here he is in London performing three of the Baroque master’s sonatas in 1982 (shortly after his last Schubert Club appearance):

Between 1983 and 1985 his always fragile psyche and intermittently faltering career were derailed by antidepressants and alcohol. But then, freed of addictions, he made his final and most astonishing comeback, and the remaining few years of Horowitz’s long artistic life proved to be among the most rewarding. He returned to Russia after an absence of more than 60 years and then to European capitals where he had not played in decades. His internationally televised Moscow recital in April 1986 was one of the great cultural events of the decade:

In his last tour, Horowitz revisited Vienna for the first time in over 50 years. That recital on May 31, 1987 was also captured by the cameras and can be watched here in its entirety:

From the Schubert Club Archive:

Program from Horowitz’ October 1928 concert 

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Horowitz as he looked when he first performed for Schubert Club in 1928

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Signed program from Horowitz’ 1979 concert

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older Horowitz laughing while straightening his tie

Local newspaper clipping announcing Horowitz return to the Twin Cities for his 1979 Schubert Club performance at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis (postponed from October 1978 to May 1979)

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horowitz playing the piano

1978 profile of Horowitz detailing his tumultuous yet fascinating rise to stardom

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caricature of vladimir horowitz playing the piano

Review from the St. Paul Pioneer Press of Horowitz’ May 1979 performance

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Review in the Minneapolis Star about Horowitz’ May 1979 performance

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Review in the Minneapolis Tribune about Horowitz’ May 1979 performance

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