Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Vladimir Horowitz

Music History Monday: The Beloved Son Returns

We mark the solo piano recital on April 20, 1986 – 34 years ago today – that saw Vladimir Horowitz perform at the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. Horowitz, who was 82 years old at the time, had not visited or performed in his native Russia for 61 years. Not since Franz Liszt (1811-1886) had a pianist routinely electrified audiences as did Horowitz (1903-1989). It wasn’t just his flawless technique: the amazing colors he could draw from the piano; the preternatural accuracy and clarity of his playing; the ungodly speed of his octaves and the overwhelming volume of sound he could produce without ever banging. It was also the prodigious electricity – the sheer excitement – he generated on stage, what the senior music critic of The New York Times Harold Schonberg called: “a kind of high-voltage charisma that, in his time, could be matched only by Toscanini, Callas, and Pavarotti.”  The American pianist Emanuel Ax said:  “I knew people who worshiped Horowitz, as I did, and I knew people who hated him. But no one was indifferent. He brought the idea of excitement in piano playing to a higher pitch than anyone I’ve ever heard. For me the […]

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Music History Monday: Whoa

When it comes to a date-oriented blog like this one, there are days and then there are days.  Over the two-plus years since I began this post, I have found that most days offer up one or two major (or semi-major) events in music history. These are the good days, the easy days to write about. Some days are harder as events of any note are few and far between. There are days – more frequent than you might think – during which virtually nothing of interest occurred; when that happens I’ve either juked forward or back by a day or just taken the opportunity to bloviate.  Finally, every now and then, there is a day so filled with notable musical anniversaries that the mind reels and the bladder weakens at the thought of choosing just one, two, or even three events to write about. For reasons coincidental, astrological, or just whatever, October 1 is just such a day in music history: the wealth of events – major and minor – that occurred on this date is crazy. I cannot and will not choose; let’s just wallow, in chronological order. On October 1, 1708 – 310 years ago today – […]

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