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Biography

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Overview (4)

Born in Kiev, Russian Empire [now Ukraine]
Died in New York City, New York, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameVladimir Samoylovich Gorowitz
Nickname Volodya

Mini Bio (1)

Vladimir Samoylovich Horowitz was born on October 1, 1903, in Berdichev (near Kiev), Ukraine (then Russian Empire). His father, named Simeon Horowitz, was an electrical engineer. His mother, named Sophie Horowitz, was a professional pianist and teacher at the Kiev Conservatory. Young Vladimir Horowitz took his first piano lessons from his mother. At the age of 9 he entered the Kiev Conservatory where he studied with Vladimir Puchalsky, Sergei Tarnowsky, and Felix Blumenfeld. At the age of 11 he met and played with Alexander Scriabin. He graduated from the Conservatory in 1920 with the performance of the Piano Concerto No. 3 by Sergei Rachmaninoff. By that time his family was devastated by the purges of the Russian Revolution. All of their property, including the piano, was seized by the Bolsheviks.

Horowitz performed extensively in Kharkov, Kiev, Moscow, and Leningrad, acquiring a reputation as a virtuoso. In Leningrad alone he gave 23 concerts in 1922, being paid with food instead of money. He left Russia in 1925 and gave 69 concerts in Europe during the season of 1926-1927. He studied briefly with Alfred Cortot in Paris. Horowitz made his American debut in 1928 with the New York Philharmonic, playing the Piano Concerto No.1 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. His debut was a sensation. Horowitz performed sold-out concerts and commanded the highest fees throughout his legendary career. In 1932 Horowitz performed the Emperor Concerto by Ludwig van Beethoven with the conductor Arturo Toscanini and won the admiration of the maestro. The same year in Milan, Italy, Vladimir Horowitz married Wanda Toscanini. They had one daughter. Horowitz and Toscanini gave a remarkable fund-raiser for the war effort with their 1943 performance of the Piano Concerto No. 1 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. With that concert alone they raised $10,000,000 for the allies in the Second World War.

Horowitz was a close friend of Sergei Rachmaninoff. They played piano together at the Rachmaninov's home in Beverly Hills. Rachmaninov famously admitted that Horowitz surpassed him in the interpretation of his Piano Concerto No. 3. Horowitz played with unusually stretched fingers and low wrists, but even Rachmaninov said, "Horowitz plays contrary to what they taught, yet somehow with Horowitz it works." He performed an immensely wide repertoire, ranging from Arcangelo Corelli to Alexander Scriabin. He also made fine transcriptions of "Pictures at an Exhibition" by Modest Mussorgsky and of "Hungarian Rhapsody No.2" by Franz Liszt; which are considered to be the most difficult, even for a virtuoso like Horowitz. At some points in his career he suffered from anxiety and depression; taking long brakes, especially from 1953-1965 and from 1969-1974. On several occasions he was said to have experienced stage fright and had to be pushed onto the stage. Once he was sitting at the piano, however, he was perfect. His playing was famous for refined nuances, clear articulation, definitive phrasing, and impressive tone.

In 1986 Horowitz made a sensational tour of Russia, where he took his own Steinway piano in a bullet-proof case. His performances in Moscow and Leningrad (St. Petersburg) were sold out many months prior to his arrival. These performances had both musical and political importance at the time when Mikhail Gorbachev was making changes in the rigid Soviet system. The acclaimed concert performance was released on video as 'Horowitz in Moscow' (1986).

Vladimir Horowitz died of a heart attack on November 5, 1989, in New York. He was laid to rest in the Toscanini family tomb in Cimitiero Monumentale, Milan, Italy.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

Spouse (1)

Wanda Toscanini-Horowitz (21 December 1933 - 5 November 1989) (his death)

Trivia (7)

He is considered by many to be the greatest pianist of the twentieth century.
He left Russia in 1925 and did not return until his trip to Moscow in 1986. He became an American citizen on December 14, 1945.
He is the most famous interpreter of Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Third Piano Concerto" (popularly known now as the "Rach Third"). He and Rachmaninov were best friends, and Rachmaninov stopped playing the concerto himself when he heard Horowitz play it. Horowitz recorded it three times.
He was awarded the American National Medal of the Arts in 1989 by the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington D.C.
The fund-raising concert performance that he gave in 1943 of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "1st Piano Concerto", with Arturo Toscanini conducting, was eventually released on records and CD, and has long been one of Horowitz's most treasured performances.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume Two, 1986-1990, pages 431-433. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999.
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 1680 Vine Street in Hollywood, California.

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