Vladimir Horowitz was born on October 1, 1903 in the Ukraine. He
took his first piano lessons from his mother Sophie at the age of five. However,
until age twelve, the young Horowitz showed more interest in composition than playing.
In 1912 Horowitz began studying at the Kiev Conservatory where his piano professors
were Sergei Tarnovsky and Felix Blumenfeld. In 1914 he met and played for Alexander Scriabin,
and in 1919 he left the conservatory, performing Rachmaninov's Piano
Concerto No. 3 at his graduation.
Horowitz first solo concert recital was in Kiev in 1920. Two years later he
was performing in concerts throughout Russia. In 1925, he left for
Western Europe, playing his first solo concert in Berlin in 1926.
Later that year he was given the chance to play Tchaikovsky's Piano
Concerto No. 1 with the Hamburg Philharmonic. However, Horowitz was given
a mere hour and a half's notice. After a magnificent concert, the audience honored
the pianist with a standing ovation. This terrific success did
much to establish Horowitz's reputation in Germany and in the major
musical capitals of Europe.
In 1928 Horowitz made his New York debut in the Tchaikovsky
Concerto with the New York Philharmonic, directed by Sir Thomas Beecham.
This was followed by a solo recital and an extensive American tour. During
the same year, he played Rachmaninov´s Piano Concerto No. 3 for the composer.
The two great pianists remained close friends until Rachmaninov´s
death in 1943. In 1930 Horowitz made the first of his three recordings
of Rachmaninov´s Piano Concerto No. 3 with Albert Coates conducting
the London Symphony Orchestra.
By now Vladimir Horowitz had played with almost every one of the
world's greatest conductors with one exception-- Arturo Toscanini. However, in
October 1932, on the recommendation of Adolf Busch, Toscanini asked Horowitz
to play the "Emperor" Concerto as part of a Beethoven
cycle Toscanini proposed to give in Carnegie Hall. The great Italian conductor
immediately warmed to Horowitz's playing and the concert formed the beginning of a long-standing
collaboration between the two artists both in concert and on record. On
December 21, 1933 Horowitz married Toscanini's daughter, Wanda.
With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the Toscanini and Horowitz
families left for America. Vladimir Horowitz did not perform again
in Europe until 1951. In 1943 Horowitz's performance of Tchaikovsky's
Piano Concerto No. 1 with Toscanini at Carnegie Hall helped raise over
10 million for the war effort. Horowitz became an American citizen in
In 1953 Vladimir Horowitz retired from giving concerts. He continued
making recordings, signing an exclusive contract with CBS
Masterworks in 1962. On May 9, 1965 he created a sensation with his
"Historic Return" concert, the beginning of an extraordinarily
productive period in Horowitz's career. In 1968 he gave a one-hour
"Television Concert" on CBS.
In 1978 Horowitz gave his first concerto performance for a quarter century, again
playing Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 3 with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, this time
under Eugene Ormandy. In the same year he performed at the White House
for President and Mrs. Carter. In 1982, Horowitz gave his first recital in
London for thirty-one years "at the invitation of Prince Charles".
In 1986 Horowitz returned to Russia for the first time for sixty years,
giving concerts to rapturous audiences in Moscow and Leningrad.
In 1989 Horowitz recorded Haydn's Piano Sonata in E flat, Liszt´s
Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen and Isolde's Liebestod transcription,
and a selection of music by Chopin for Sony Classical. The Last
Recording went on to win the Grammy for the best solo classical album
for 1991, one of 15 Grammys awarded to Horowitz's CBS and Sony
On November 5, 1989 Vladimir Horowitz died at home of a heart
attack. He was buried in the Toscanini family tomb at the Cimitario
Monumentale in Milan.