Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Into the sunset

Vladimir Horowitz, his influence lasts! Check out this story on Murray Perahia, the Poet of the Piano.

Apparently Horowitz chased after Perahia when the Poet of the Piano was a kid. Horowitz wanted to teach him. This is still something to be talked about in reverent whispers.

Here you had all the pianists in the world supposedly beating on Horowitz's door and all Horowitz would give them was a cold nod. But Murray Perahia, there was something about him Horowitz liked. And here it is decades later, and Perahia has had this long and wonderful career, and yet what do we focus on? Horowitz liked him. Horowitz wanted to teach him. Horowitz would ring his doorbell and leave him notes.

Imagine Horowitz ringing your doorbell.

Your roommate tells you: "Vladimir Horowitz came by again."

You say: "Oh, he is such a problem. Please, keep telling him I am busy."

I ask you.

I admire the playing of Murray Perahia. But something seems wrong when we have Horowitz, this old crab, still bossing us from the grave as far as which pianists to listen to and which not to bother with. I mean, I like a lot of his recordings, but enough is enough, you know? He was this eccentric guy and God knows why he hung out with the people he did and liked the people he did. I am tired of taking it so seriously.

Can't Murray Perahia's playing just stand on its own?

Just this one clip could make him immortal as far as I am concerned.

That Oscar Wilde hairstyle! I love it.

And the Schubert is not bad either.


  1. The late Leo Smit once told me, when I asked him for an opinion on Horowitz, that it depended on what mood he (Smit) was in. Sometimes he thought he was the greatest of all pianists, sometimes the worst. In spite of his eccentricities, Horowitz changed the face of piano playing and everyone who play the piano, especially professionally, has to come to grips with his work, the same as every violinist has to face the work of Heifetz.

    About the rest, you're right; he was a hideously ugly old man who cared too much about what other pianists looked like.

  2. @#$%!!! I caught a typo, above. It should be "plays the piano." Typos drive me nuts!

  3. Prof. G, I only just now saw what you wrote ... so interesting, about Leo Smit!

    I did not actually think of Horowitz as that ugly, he was just an old man. Also I did not know that whether he liked pianists depended on what they looked like ... I was just thinking, who knows why he liked the people he did. Just like with anyone, I guess. Except with Horowitz they treat it like sacred Scripture and analyze it into the new millennium and for me it has gotten to be too much!

  4. Oddly, over the years I've become tired with treating performance like Scripture, when without composers performers would have nothing to display their talents with. And there are many valid ways to play a piece of music. The interesting thing to me is how perspective shifts, making communication between creator, performer and listener change always. And all three things need to line up for an unforgettable artistic experience. OK, I'm pontificating again...shut up, professor!