Vladimir Samoylovich Horowitz is commonly referred to as one of the greatest pianists of the 20th Century. Born in Kiev in 1903, he received early musical instruction from his mother, a pianist herself, before joining the Kiev Conservatory. He would soon start touring an impoverished Soviet Union, where he would often be paid with bread, butter and chocolate rather than money given the poverty in the country at the time.
In 1925 he gave his first solo recital outside of the Soviet Union, in Berlin, and three years later would go on to debuting in the US, at a recital in Carnegie Hall where he played Tchaikovsky‘s first piano concerto under the direction of Sir Thomas Beecham who was also making his debut in the US. Horowitz would establish himself in the US in 1939 and became an american citizen in 1944.
In 1933 Horowitz married Arturo Toscanini‘s daughter Wanda. Horowitz and Toscanini had an intense professional relationship, having performed and recorded together on numerous ocassions.
In light of profound doubts about his sexuality, Horowitz underwent psychological treatment, including electroshock therapy, which eventually provoked increasing doubts on his personal ability as a pianist, which got him to leave stage whilst performing on several ocassions.
Once having finished his therapy, and free of drugs, after 1985 he would go on to resume his profesional activity in full form. Being his first re-appearance in the documentary to be found at the end of this article “Vladimir Horowitz: The Last Romantic”
In 1986, and on the wake of political openness, Horowitz would return to the Soviet Union for the first time since 1925, where he gave a series of recitals. You can find his acclaimed encore of the first Moscow concerts here.
He would die at the age of 86 in NY of a heart attack in 1989. He was buried at Toscanini’s family tomb at Cimiterio Monumentale, Milan, Italy.
Highly recommended is this short video of one of the encores in the Moscow reappearance.
You can buy here Vladimir Horowitz – The Last Romantic
Watch here “Vladimir Horowitz: The Last Romantic”