Almost 30 years have passed since one of the greatest pianists of the last century, Vladimir Samoilovich Horowitz (1903–1989), departed this world. While there are no “new” performances, a great number of CDs featuring his performances are still hitting the shelves. Some of these posthumous products have never been made public before, while many others are reissues of previous recordings. DVDs have also enabled us to have access to the visual aspects of his performance. While most virtuosos are quickly forgotten upon their death, the everlasting presence of Horowitz is a true exception.
We were lucky enough to attend some of his recitals in his last days, but what fascinated us even more was the aural delectation we derived from his piano playing on recordings. So we began to obtain recordings with the hope of listening to as many of his performances as possible. His exceptional music has fueled our passion to collect all his records (regardless of format, be it LP, CD or DVD) and we continue to do so up to the present day. While we may not have gathered all the records that have been released throughout the world so far, we are pretty sure we have amassed 99% of them.
Several years before the 25th anniversary of Horowitz’s death, we decided to publish more than 40 years of our collection experience covering his audio/video recordings and our information gathering and other research activities. Although collecting all the performances of Horowitz seemed an almost unending task, we concluded that the 25th year since his death should be regarded as a milestone, envisaging a publication to mark that occasion. Thanks to the efforts of many, we were able to publish a Japanese edition of this book on the 25th anniversary (November 5, 2014) of his death. This English edition is essentially a translation of the Japanese version that has been enlarged and partly revised.
This book aims to present a comprehensive picture of the musical legacy of the pianist Horowitz, that is, to enumerate all his published audio and visual recordings, formal or pirated, as well as to describe the chronological changes in his performance styles.
Horowitz made audio recordings in various formats, including piano rolls, 78s, 45s, LPs (331⁄3 rpm), open-real tapes, cassette tapes, DATs and CDs. His visual recordings are available as silent movies, video tapes, laser discs and DVDs, some of which can also be found on YouTube.
Most of the piano rolls, 78s, 45s, LPs and visual recordings were collected by Ishii (see Chapter 1 for the how and why), while most of the CDs and books released after 1995 belong to the co-author Jun Kinoshita.
We have found that all but one of the piano rolls, 78s, 45s and LPs that were formally released by recording companies have been reissued on CD. The single exception is a 78, which was discontinued in response to Horowitz’s strong request. Thus he is one of the very few pianists whose formal and informal recordings are so comprehensively available on CD.
To showcase Horowitz’s legacy, we have included the jacket images of his records and CDs as well as some frames of video clips so far as space has permitted. Selected jacket images are also shown on the poster that comes with this book. The jackets of the LPs and CDs that we regard as most the important and fundamental of his recordings are sorted in accordance with each chapter of the book to create a comprehensive vision of Horowitz’s works. This selection will provide you with a taste of almost all of his performances that have been released so far.
As is well known, the design of record jackets differs from country to country, and from era to era. This may be irrelevant to the listening, but it is quite intriguing how differently the same sound source was packaged and designed. It not only reveals changes in taste and vogues for design; the variety of jackets for the same performance reflects Horowitz’s popularity. Chapters 2–6 include images of these jackets, and each of these chapters is dedicated to a different recording format (78-rpm, 45-rpm, LP and CD). Chapter 7 is a summary of Horowitz’s performances on video and Chapter 8 is a collection of references in printed form such as books, magazine covers, concert programs, posters and concert.
This book gives us the delight of reviewing how Horowitz’s recordings were released in different media such as LPs and CDs in different countries. In the U.S., the U.K., France and Japan, almost all Horowitz’s performances were released virtually simultaneously. This reflects that these countries had a strong customer base. Strangely enough, I could not obtain any 78s produced in Germany. Was it just a coincidence? Or were all the 78s destroyed in WWII, or did Germans just import 78s instead of making their own versions? This remains a mystery for me.
Japan had an isolationist policy until 1867, 10 years before Edison invented the phonograph. Naturally, Western music was completely alien to its people. But in as early as 1910s, some of them could afford the expensive phonographs, and in 1930s, many people were enamored with Horowitz’s performance. In the nineteenth century, Japanese people were highly literate and had their own sophisticated music, which is why they accepted western music in a short period of time.
Appendices is included at the end of the book. For the piano rolls, 78-rpms and 45-rpms, the roll or record number and the pieces contained in them are given. A comprehensive listing of his repertoire including films is also provided, and the Yale Collection is also mentioned.
The abovementioned chapters and appendices were written chiefly by Ishii with the cooperation of Kinoshita, while Chapter 9 contains a detailed analysis of Horowitz’s performances by Kinoshita. The pianist’s performance and recording history is categorized into six periods and the salient features of his performance style and repertoire in each period are detailed. Representative pieces of each period and LPs, CDs and DVDs containing them are also discussed.
We, Ishii and Kinoshita, first became acquainted with each other in 1986 when we were standing next to each other in a long line to buy tickets to Horowitz’s performance in Tokyo. We differ in everything from age to upbringing to habitat and occupation, but Horowitz connects us. Without that miraculous encounter, this book would not have come into existence.
Horowitz’s presence is inevitably fading away as young pianists keep appearing on the scene one after another, but when we revisited his recordings in preparing this book, we were awe-inspired by his mastery and realized that new is not always great. We hope this book will serve as an effective tool for collecting his recordings and renew public interest in Horowitz’s piano performances.
Apr. 21, 2019 Yoshioki Ishii
またISHIIはThe Hyper Print Art
と名付けた、新たな芸術分野を開拓したが、これらに関してはISHII and Daughtersをご覧頂きたい。
Mail address of horowitz.jp email@example.com