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Topic: Vladimir Horowitz - The Acrobat  (Read 4336 times)

Offline zhiliang

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Vladimir Horowitz - The Acrobat
on: May 29, 2004, 04:44:54 AM
I have read this article in a certain book and would really want to share with everyone here. I have summarised it just a little bit. I found it kind of interesting.

Many people went to hear Horowitz during the 1940s and 1950s, in part because they hoped that he might topple from the high wire, like an acrobat when playing something spectacular (e.g. Liszt's Rhapsodies or his own piano transcriptions), the ultimate edge was provided by the knowledge that there was no safety net should he fall. What brought Horowitz to an emotional breaking point was his sccession to a large public's demand that he walk the high wire. The problem was not that Horowitz did not take pleasure in his own abilities; he did. Nor was it that Horowitz could not give the audience what pianists schooled in the German repertoire gave them, (His Schubert, Beethoven sonatas are tremendous). On the contrary, the problem was that pianists schooled chiefly in the German repertoire could not give audiences what Hotowitz did. (Liszt once in a darkened room played the piano so much in the style of Chopin, that the assembled thought it was Chopin, until he lit the candles on the piano and said, "You see that Liszt can be Chopin when he likes; but could Chopin be Liszt?")

So if Horowitz played Brahms and Schubert and Beethoven, he was denounced by critics as being without the imagination for playing out of school, but if he played Liszt he was denounced by the same dull critics for neglecting Brahms, Beethoven and Schubert and praised for the fabulousness of his Liszt. He therefore believed his only salvation was to retire beginning in 1953. But before his long retirement, Lipatti who heard him in Paris wrote, "Nothing is so sad as stylized and intellectualized music where only intuition and great sensitivity are needed.... Horowitz will be the most extraordinary pianist of all times, the day he is content to accept himself as he is."

So what are your views and opinions on this passage plus also the Liszt-Chopin episode and also what LIpatti have mentioned in the end?
-- arthur rubinstein --

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: Vladimir Horowitz - The Acrobat
Reply #1 on: May 29, 2004, 01:28:40 PM
No, I don't think Chopin can be Liszt.

Why didn't Vlad just play Liszt AND Beethoven et al?

Offline cziffra

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Re: Vladimir Horowitz - The Acrobat
Reply #2 on: May 29, 2004, 03:41:41 PM
i would very much like to read the unsummarised article...i felt i missed something reading that
What it all comes down to is that one does not play the piano with one’s fingers; one plays the piano with one’s mind.-  Glenn Gould

f0bul0us

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Re: Vladimir Horowitz - The Acrobat
Reply #3 on: May 29, 2004, 07:45:54 PM
Yes, it's quite a summary but to have a true opinion I'd have to read the original article. Very interesting thread though.

Offline trunks

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Re: Vladimir Horowitz - The Acrobat
Reply #4 on: May 30, 2004, 07:32:35 PM
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. . .  Lipatti who heard him in Paris wrote, "Nothing is so sad as stylized and intellectualized music where only intuition and great sensitivity are needed.... Horowitz will be the most extraordinary pianist of all times, the day he is content to accept himself as he is." . . .

Hi zhiliang,

Perhaps he was one of the most extraordinary pianists. But I have never thought he was the greatest. The way he did most music has never found agreement with me.

Forget Horowitz. Stick to your favourite!;)
Peter (Hong Kong)
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amateur classical concert pianist

Offline thracozaag

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Re: Vladimir Horowitz - The Acrobat
Reply #5 on: May 30, 2004, 09:20:30 PM
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Hi zhiliang,

Perhaps he was one of the most extraordinary pianists. But I have never thought he was the greatest. The way he did most music has never found agreement with me.

Forget Horowitz. Stick to your favourite!;)


::)
"We have to reach a certain level before we realize how small we are."--Georges Cziffra

Offline trunks

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Re: Vladimir Horowitz - The Acrobat
Reply #6 on: May 30, 2004, 11:40:15 PM
Aha, I knew it that sooner or later you would come and frown!;)
Peter (Hong Kong)
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Offline zhiliang

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Re: Vladimir Horowitz - The Acrobat
Reply #7 on: May 31, 2004, 04:28:58 AM
But truly Horowitz has really astounded me at times. Like they say, he may not be the greatest of them all, but there are some pieces where no one can play like he does. The Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3, the Prokofiev Sonatas, the Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, the Liszt Sonata, his own transcriptions and many more...

Sadly, the passage is not as summarised as you would think. All of the key points are there already and it actually comes from a book entitled "Virtuosi". Maybe you all can look it up.

Zhiliang
-- arthur rubinstein --

Offline trunks

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Re: Vladimir Horowitz - The Acrobat
Reply #8 on: May 31, 2004, 07:40:26 PM
Yes I agree. Even I - being one of the staunchest of those who dislike Horowitz's pianism - have moments when I admire this pianist. Notably on Mozart, Scriabin and perhaps Rachmaninoff. The Rachmaninoff No.3 and Tchaikovsky No.1, are not really my cup of tea, though, and I think the Rachmaninoff No.2 by far outshines both works in terms of music.

But then Horowitz on Liszt, Chopin, Beethoven . . . oh my God, I always have that urge to switch off the radio or the HiFi !
Peter (Hong Kong)
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Offline thracozaag

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Re: Vladimir Horowitz - The Acrobat
Reply #9 on: May 31, 2004, 08:43:12 PM
Quote
Yes I agree. Even I - being one of the staunchest of those who dislike Horowitz's pianism - have moments when I admire this pianist. Notably on Mozart, Scriabin and perhaps Rachmaninoff. The Rachmaninoff No.3 and Tchaikovsky No.1, are not really my cup of tea, though, and I think the Rachmaninoff No.2 by far outshines both works in terms of music.

But then Horowitz on Liszt, Chopin, Beethoven . . . oh my God, I always have that urge to switch off the radio or the HiFi !


 His Chopin and Beethoven are simply too neurotic, but I don't see having any qualms whatsoever about his Liszt.

koji
"We have to reach a certain level before we realize how small we are."--Georges Cziffra

Offline trunks

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Re: Vladimir Horowitz - The Acrobat
Reply #10 on: May 31, 2004, 09:23:36 PM
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His Chopin and Beethoven are simply too neurotic, but I don't see having any qualms whatsoever about his Liszt.
koji

His Liszt is a mite more acceptable than the other two composers, yet not like those Liszt that I would admire from Arrau, Bolet, Brendel, Howard, Rubinstein.
Peter (Hong Kong)
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Offline thracozaag

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Re: Vladimir Horowitz - The Acrobat
Reply #11 on: May 31, 2004, 09:39:18 PM
Quote

His Liszt is a mite more acceptable than the other two composers, yet not like those Liszt that I would admire from Arrau, Bolet, Brendel, Howard, Rubinstein.


 His Liszt Sonata (the earlier one, of course) is phenomenal.  Bolet's is the only one (and the live one, which I assume you haven't heard) is the only one that I would rank up with his of the those you listed.  As far as other pieces, his Vallee D'obermann, Board d'source, and various transcriptions are simply peerless.

koji
"We have to reach a certain level before we realize how small we are."--Georges Cziffra

Offline trunks

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Re: Vladimir Horowitz - The Acrobat
Reply #12 on: May 31, 2004, 11:10:33 PM
Quote
His Liszt Sonata (the earlier one, of course) is phenomenal.  Bolet's is the only one (and the live one, which I assume you haven't heard) is the only one that I would rank up with his of the those you listed.  As far as other pieces, his Vallee D'obermann, Board d'source, and various transcriptions are simply peerless.
koji

Hm . . . Generally speaking Bolet's Liszt, although superb, doesn't rank high among those on my list.
Peter (Hong Kong)
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Offline thracozaag

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Re: Vladimir Horowitz - The Acrobat
Reply #13 on: June 01, 2004, 05:28:58 PM
Quote

Hm . . . Generally speaking Bolet's Liszt, although superb, doesn't rank high among those on my list.



Then why is he on "your" list? (no pun intended)

koji
"We have to reach a certain level before we realize how small we are."--Georges Cziffra

Offline trunks

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Re: Vladimir Horowitz - The Acrobat
Reply #14 on: June 01, 2004, 05:52:19 PM
In my opinion, Bolet is arguably among the top 5 on my Liszt list (again no pun intended).;D
That's why he was there.

I like pianists who are all-round and short in eccentricity. Martha Argerich, for example, could never convince me unless she does away with her mannerism.
Peter (Hong Kong)
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Offline steinwaymodeld

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Re: Vladimir Horowitz - The Acrobat
Reply #15 on: June 02, 2004, 04:18:22 PM
I have read this article, and I agree a lot with it.

Pianist are like story-teller, telling easy(schumann) or difficult stories(Schonberg)

Pianist have to live on popularity, just like all other kind of show-business. That's why we have different level of commericialized-pianist. (From Maksim -> Lang Lang -> Horowitz -> Hamelin -> Attwood from our forum. In the order of decresing of commercialism)

What a pity that 90% of the audience doesn't know what they are hearing or about to hear. And so that a lot of premature comments are made about the pianist.

A lot of misunderstanding of pianist are drawn.
For eg:

Difficult music -> Virtuoso -> all muscle no brain
(Cziffra are mostly the victim of this kind of generalization)

The best pianist are the one can 'Move' and 'Educate' the audience, for eg: Marc-Andre Hamelin.

I think before him, no one really give a damn about the Godowsky, medtner, alkan, kapustin musics.

Thanks to Dre, the audience are more 'educated' nowadays.

About Horowitz, I used to be a big Horowitz freak, i think that's the 'electricity' of his piano playing. He dares to be experimental, for eg, there are several playing of the Chopin ballade 1 avaliable out there. Each of them are completely different from each other. That's why the comment about Horowitz is so diverged. But I like people who dare to be different. Who wants to hear the same kind of playing of Chopin Ballade 1 again like 1000 times anyway.

After horowitz left Kiev and went to Europe and came to US, he played all those big and difficult works, for eg: He forsake the Chopin 1(his father gave him the idea), and pick Tch1. Since Horowitz wanted fame fast, he of course picked the most direct way. Playing big and fancy works. And of course he plays superbly. After he acquired the fame he needs, he continued to play big and fancy work (for eg, in 30,40, Feux Follets, Mazeppa, Don Juan are his signitare pieces, too bad it wasn't recorded) Until he had mental breakdown as the article above stated. My opinion is, Horowitz was fed up by playing all those big work, just like Racher fed up playing the OP.3 no.2 prelude again. And the worst thing is, the audience are so immature, they never grow on the musical taste. You have to play islamey like 1000 times, and they will still love it when u play the 1001 time.

Horowitz then took some times off the stage(13 years? I can't remember exactly), but continue to make recording. That was the time he started seriously think about the music he was gonna play. And on another hand starting to think how to educate the audience.

After the return of Horowitz, he started playing some other works from, Schumann Scenes from Childhood, Debussy Children's corner. And he started to play Scarlatti (it was because one time Wanda got the complete original score from Europe.) And audience start to know about Scarlatti. Horowitz also play more and more Mozart and the love of Mozart continued to grow in Horowitz until the end of his life. Of course he retain playing Russian-school musics. And there are some music that horowitz refrained from playing after he returned (for eg. Brahms)

Until the end of his life, Horowitz's style continue to change throughout time. And that's what so interesting about it. About how a master of piano can change and educate the audience. For those who don't like Horowitz, these are the thing you can't see/listen from just 1 recording. The true beauty of Horowitz is not solely about one or 2  of his concert. His wrong notes are as beautiful as his right ones. His dreadful recordings are what made his more educated one shines. (Compare the Toscaninni Tch1 with the Szell Tch1)

Listening to Horowitz is like listening to a diary of a master.
Perfection itself is imperfection - Vladimir Horowitz

Offline thracozaag

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Re: Vladimir Horowitz - The Acrobat
Reply #16 on: June 02, 2004, 05:32:45 PM
Quote
I have read this article, and I agree a lot with it.

Pianist are like story-teller, telling easy(schumann) or difficult stories(Schonberg)

Pianist have to live on popularity, just like all other kind of show-business. That's why we have different level of commericialized-pianist. (From Maksim -> Lang Lang -> Horowitz -> Hamelin -> Attwood from our forum. In the order of decresing of commercialism)

What a pity that 90% of the audience doesn't know what they are hearing or about to hear. And so that a lot of premature comments are made about the pianist.

A lot of misunderstanding of pianist are drawn.
For eg:

Difficult music -> Virtuoso -> all muscle no brain
(Cziffra are mostly the victim of this kind of generalization)

The best pianist are the one can 'Move' and 'Educate' the audience, for eg: Marc-Andre Hamelin.

I think before him, no one really give a damn about the Godowsky, medtner, alkan, kapustin musics.

Thanks to Dre, the audience are more 'educated' nowadays.

About Horowitz, I used to be a big Horowitz freak, i think that's the 'electricity' of his piano playing. He dares to be experimental, for eg, there are several playing of the Chopin ballade 1 avaliable out there. Each of them are completely different from each other. That's why the comment about Horowitz is so diverged. But I like people who dare to be different. Who wants to hear the same kind of playing of Chopin Ballade 1 again like 1000 times anyway.

After horowitz left Kiev and went to Europe and came to US, he played all those big and difficult works, for eg: He forsake the Chopin 1(his father gave him the idea), and pick Tch1. Since Horowitz wanted fame fast, he of course picked the most direct way. Playing big and fancy works. And of course he plays superbly. After he acquired the fame he needs, he continued to play big and fancy work (for eg, in 30,40, Feux Follets, Mazeppa, Don Juan are his signitare pieces, too bad it wasn't recorded) Until he had mental breakdown as the article above stated. My opinion is, Horowitz was fed up by playing all those big work, just like Racher fed up playing the OP.3 no.2 prelude again. And the worst thing is, the audience are so immature, they never grow on the musical taste. You have to play islamey like 1000 times, and they will still love it when u play the 1001 time.

Horowitz then took some times off the stage(13 years? I can't remember exactly), but continue to make recording. That was the time he started seriously think about the music he was gonna play. And on another hand starting to think how to educate the audience.

After the return of Horowitz, he started playing some other works from, Schumann Scenes from Childhood, Debussy Children's corner. And he started to play Scarlatti (it was because one time Wanda got the complete original score from Europe.) And audience start to know about Scarlatti. Horowitz also play more and more Mozart and the love of Mozart continued to grow in Horowitz until the end of his life. Of course he retain playing Russian-school musics. And there are some music that horowitz refrained from playing after he returned (for eg. Brahms)

Until the end of his life, Horowitz's style continue to change throughout time. And that's what so interesting about it. About how a master of piano can change and educate the audience. For those who don't like Horowitz, these are the thing you can't see/listen from just 1 recording. The true beauty of Horowitz is not solely about one or 2  of his concert. His wrong notes are as beautiful as his right ones. His dreadful recordings are what made his more educated one shines. (Compare the Toscaninni Tch1 with the Szell Tch1)

Listening to Horowitz is like listening to a daily of a master.


 Very well said.  A pet peeve of mine are uninformed critics who like to pigeon-hole artists (The Cziffra example you mentioned comes to mind).  Horowitz defied these broad generalizations because he was continually growing and changing as a person, and thus, as an artist.  

koji
"We have to reach a certain level before we realize how small we are."--Georges Cziffra

Offline trunks

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Re: Vladimir Horowitz - The Acrobat
Reply #17 on: June 02, 2004, 10:43:49 PM
Quote
. . . <snipped> A lot of misunderstanding of pianist are drawn.
For eg:

Difficult music -> Virtuoso -> all muscle no brain
(Cziffra are mostly the victim of this kind of generalization)

The best pianist are the one can 'Move' and 'Educate' the audience, for eg: Marc-Andre Hamelin.

I think before him, no one really give a damn about the Godowsky, medtner, alkan, kapustin musics.

Thanks to Dre, the audience are more 'educated' nowadays. . . <snipped>

difficult => virtuoso => all muscle no brain?
I don't get how people could come to this generalisation but I don't see anything relating technical demands to quality of music. It is true, however, that some pianists do - at least occasionally - have chosen to display technique rather than deliver music. In this respect I feel that Horowitz's paraphrased version of the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No.13 is doing more disservice to the original version than service. Yes I was completely awed when hearing it. But then I would still switch back to Liszt's own. Because that version delivers me way more music.

Of course then there were others before Hamelin who championed Alkan's and Godowsky's music. I actually prefer Raymond Lewenthal and Jack Gibbons on Alkan more than Hamelin. I have yet to hear Ronald Smith, though - and by the way I just learnt about the obituary of Mr Smith, who had just passed away a few days ago.:'(
Peter (Hong Kong)
part-time piano tutor
amateur classical concert pianist

Offline steinwaymodeld

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Re: Vladimir Horowitz - The Acrobat
Reply #18 on: June 03, 2004, 05:57:49 AM
Quote

difficult => virtuoso => all muscle no brain?
I don't get how people could come to this generalisation but I don't see anything relating technical demands to quality of music. It is true, however, that some pianists do - at least occasionally - have chosen to display technique rather than deliver music. In this respect I feel that Horowitz's paraphrased version of the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No.13 is doing more disservice to the original version than service. Yes I was completely awed when hearing it. But then I would still switch back to Liszt's own. Because that version delivers me way more music.

Of course then there were others before Hamelin who championed Alkan's and Godowsky's music. I actually prefer Raymond Lewenthal and Jack Gibbons on Alkan more than Hamelin. I have yet to hear Ronald Smith, though - and by the way I just learnt about the obituary of Mr Smith, who had just passed away a few days ago.:'(


Horowitz had refrained from playing the arrangement of HR13 later in his life since he realize the fact that the original might be better.

But he came up and kept playing the arrangment of HR19, since he believed 'Liszt was pretty back then when he wrote this rhapsody. And there are a lot of ideas, wonderful ideas that are not developed.' And he believe he made a better music than the original HR19. And I agree with him.

Gibbon's Alkan are actually nice, especially the slower and more sentimental one. But for technical demanding one, I need to Hamelin for the clarity. Since sometimes i don't think Gibbon's or Smith's have the ability to play everything crystal clear like Hamelin does.

And Rest In Peace, Mr. Smith
Perfection itself is imperfection - Vladimir Horowitz

Spatula

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Re: Vladimir Horowitz - The Acrobat
Reply #19 on: June 03, 2004, 06:40:39 AM
I only listened to Horowitz stuff recently but I like his style of rushing in and playing whatever there is to play.  He doesn't "look" like much, but he's got some "piano punch"
 

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