Biography of a great musician: Vladimir Horowitz was born in Kiev, Ukraine. He was the youngest of four children. His mother was a pianist and gave him lessons. He then entered a conservatory of music in Kiev, being taught by Vladimir Puchalsky. He finally began to tour in Russia where he was often paid with food rather than money because of economic hard times. His family lost all their possessions in the Russian Revolution.
His decision to go to the West came in 1925. His intension was to study with Arthur Schnabel. He had no desire to return to his homeland, so he put American dollars and British pound notes in his shoes to pay his way.
In 1925, Horowitz made his first appearance outside his country in Berlin. Later, he played in Paris, London, and New York, where he gave his first debut in Carnegie Hall.
Horowitz, who was Jewish, married Wanda who was Catholic. Wanda knew no Russian and Horowitz knew very little Italian…therefore, they spoke French. Tragedy touched their lives when their child, Sonia, died of a drug overdose.
He sought medical help for depression and seemed to have difficulty with alcohol. One Japanese critic commented that Horowitz was ” a precious antique vase that is cracked.” He stopped playing in public for about two years. In 1986, he recovered from his dependency and returned to his life in concert.
For the first time since 1925, Horowitz returned to the Soviet Union to play. The concerts were as much political as musical and no tickets were sold to the general public…only the Soviet elite. Moscow Conservatory students protested, causing quite a disruption which was caught on TV.
President Reagan presented him with the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. After this, he continued to record his music until he died of a heart attack at the age of 86 in New York. Horowitz is buried in the Toscanini family tomb in Milan, Italy.
Enjoy your Sunday and the beginning of Fall.
A wonderful letter written by an admirer of Vladimir Horowitz..telling of the hours that he spent waiting in the cold of New York City to buy a ticket to hear the beautiful music of this genius. (Thank you, Robert, for your comment to Boyer Writes and this link:letter.html )