I stumbled across this Youtube footage yesterday. It’s an interview with Russian virtuoso pianist, Vladimir Horowitz (1903-1989) filmed in 1977. Although the interviewer gives Horowitz a hard time, the film highlights the pianist’s ebullient personality and gives a fascinating insight into his life. Horowitz was considered to be one of the worlds greatest interpreters of the Romantic repertoire. His first recording of Liszt’s B minor Sonata in 1932 has often been referred to as the ‘definitive’ reading.
Particularly poignant for me, was the fact that he stopped playing in public for 12 years. This is a considerable chunk of his career; he apparently spent much of this time recording. However, it’s quite clear from this interview that he didn’t want to perform during that period of his life; he had suffered bouts of depression for which he underwent electroshock treatments.
Horowitz had several breaks of this kind during his long career proving that a ‘rest’ from concertizing for an artist can prove to be a very good idea. He returned to the concert platform full of enthusiasm and renewed energy. Renowned for his velvety sound and tone production, Horowitz produced a warm, rich tonal palette from the piano and combined this with a youthful excitement for which his performances became legendary. The interview is followed by a classic performance of one of his favourite encores; Carmen Fantasie arranged by Horowitz himself.
For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my two-book piano course, Play it again: PIANO (Schott). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, 49 progressive pieces from approximately Grade 1 – 8 level are featured, with at least two pages of practice tips for every piece. A convenient and beneficial course for students of any age, with or without a teacher, and it can also be used alongside piano examination syllabuses too.
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