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How will You Sound on Horowitz’s CD 503?

Steinway & Sons recently announced that Vladimir Horowitz’s legendary Steinway Model D continues its tour through 2014. This is a unique chance for the public to see, hear and even play the master’s favorite instrument – the Steinway CD 503 – used on his tours during his last years 1985-89.

The CD 503 has a very light and extremely touch-sensitive action. It has a crashing, thunderous bass and a transparent treble. While many pianists who have tried the piano agree that the action is even and it is a pleasure to play the instrument, it is clearly not the only magic bullet required to reach Horowitz’s level of artistic mastery.
Hear the master and his instrument in this legendary recital:

Recital: Horowitz in Vienna (1987)

Mozart Rondo in D, K. 485
Mozart – Sonata in B-flat, K. 333:
Mvt. 1: Allegro
Mvt. 2: Andante cantabile
Mvt. 3: Allegretto grazioso

Schubert – Impromptu in G-flat, op. 90 no. 3
Schubert/Liszt – Soirées de Vienne, no. 6

SCHUMANN – Kinderszenen, op. 15
1. Von fremden Ländern und Menschen
2. Kuriose Geschichte
3. Hasche-Mann
4. Bittendes Kind
5. Glückes genug
6. Wichtige Begebenheit
7. Träumerei
8. Am Kamin
9. Ritter vom Steckenpferd
10. Fast zu ernst
11. Fürchtenmachen
12. Kind im Einschlummern
13. Der Dichter spricht

Chopin – Mazurka, op. 33 no. 4
Chopin – Polonaise in A-flat, op. 53
Liszt – Consolation no.3 in D-flat,
Schubert – Moment Musical in F minor, op. 94 no. 3
Moszkowski – Etincelles, op.26 no. 6

Documentary from 1985:

The Last Romantic (82 min.)


The long career of the last romantic

Described as the greatest pianist since Franz Liszt, Horowitz’s world wide career spanned nearly 70 years since his debut in 1920. Horowitz evidently suffered from anxiety and depression which led to long career breaks, especially from 1953-65 and from 1969-74.
In 1985, Horowitz returned to concertizing and recording. His first post-retirement appearance was not on stage, but in the documentary film Vladimir Horowitz: The Last Romantic. In 1986 and as a consequence of the new relation between the USA and the USSR, Horowitz returned for the first time since 1925 for concerts in Moscow and Leningrad. Following the Russian concerts, Horowitz toured several European cities including Berlin, Amsterdam, and London. The final tour took place in Europe in 1987 and his legendary recital at the Musikverein in Vienna was documented on a video which was released by Deutsche Grammophone in 1991. His final recital, in Hamburg, Germany, took place on June 21, 1987.

Reader questions

  • What, besides the unique instrument, makes Horowitz’s playing so exceptional?
  • Which is your favourite Horowitz recording?
  • If you have played the CD 503, what was your impression?

/patrick

  1. Amanda Z Says:

    Thanks for an interesting article! My favorite Horowitz recording is the g minor Ballad but I like most of his Chopin and Schumann. Not so much his Beethoven but I was positively suprised about the Mozart Sonata in this video.

  2. Christian L Says:

    As a teenager I first became aware of Vladimir Horowitz when I saw his TV concert in the late 1960’s. Prior to that, I had never heard any of the pieces he played, but the next day I went to the music store to order them. I had never been so impressed by any pianist; I had started picking songs out at 3 and taking at 7. I bought the record when it came out. My favorites were the Scriabin Etude from Op. 8, Chopin’s Polonaise Op. 44, Etincelles, and the Scarlatti Sonatas; but above all the incredible Gypsy Song fantasy from Carmen. Since his version was not then available, I had to work up my own version. There is one Scarlatti I can still not find.

    I would say that my continuing interest in music, even starting lessons again 10 years ago, and composing with a keyboard and iMac (Logic Studio and Abelton Live) really go back to the influence Horowitz had on me.

    The 3 most influential people for me were Vladimir Horowitz, Ronald Reagan and Marcus T. Cicero. So today I am an attorney, political activist, and musician. I would love the opportunity to play his piano. I would have to play Scriabin Op. 8, No. 12 or Polonaise No. 44. Bolshoi Spaceba, Maestro Horowitz!

  3. Norman Kaye Says:

    Wonderful accurate playing. It’s a pity the writer of the “Long career” didn’t take the same attitude. ” anxiety and depression which led to long career brakes, ” indeed.For goodness sake, he’s wasn’t trying to stop the piano from moving.

  4. Anthony Carrelli Says:

    Volodya Horowitz was and forever will be an incomparable master of the piano technically executing many passages of varied difficult classical piano masterpieces with both delicate and thunderous interpretation that few of his peers could come close to emulating.

    I have been playing the piano for 60 years and can appreciate his talent.

    I doubt if we shall ever see anything like him on the horizon.

  5. allan graupman Says:

    to Anthony carrel I say: you haven’t heard the blind Japanese pianist
    who plays LISZT like no one I have ever heard, including Horowitz who is one of my favorites.
    There is also an Italian young pianist who I heard playing one of the most difficult very FAST pieces that I could never master. His performance was just unbelieveable. There are so many new pianists on the horizon being taught by fantastic teachers. Some of the fingering I see when they do fast runs are just too much. I have played for a long time also, and now that I’m too old I play for my own enjoyment.
    I pray that if I come back into this world in another life, I come as a child of a musical family well versed and loving as they teach me at 3 years old to play the piano. that’s all.

  6. Val Says:

    Beautiful but a bit fast without feeling.

  7. Anthony Carrelli Says:

    Reply to Allan Graupman’s comments on April 21st, 2014 at 20:09:

    I thought I made it clear that Horowitz’s interpretations were uniquely insightful compared with the crowd of performers. That is why he stands alone on the pantheon of great artists. His only occasional problems were with sloppiness of execution and overemotionalism but very infrequent.

    Into today’s world my vote goes to Valentina Lisitsa. She is a gem in the rough. Her only problems occasionally are with excessive tempi.

  8. Louis Podesta Says:

    This post is a fraud. My Steinway factory trained tuner/technician personally inspected Horowitz’ original piano, and this not it!

    Horowitz’ piano was a combination/ bastardization of old hammers (hard like rock) and new hammers. The piano that Steinway sends on tour is all new hammers, and it no way represents the piano this great artist used to record and perform.

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