Last modified on 25 November 2014, at 21:59

Vladimir Horowitz

Vladimir Horowitz (October 1, 1903–November 5, 1989) was a classical pianist.


  • I am famous, but I am not well known.
  • Perfection itself is imperfection.
  • It's better to make your own mistakes than to copy someone else's.
  • My future is in my past and my past is in my present. I must now make the present my future.
  • When I am on the stage, I'm a king. No one can interfere with me because I have something to do, and it has to be the best which is within me.
  • I'm a general. My soldiers are the keys, and I have to command them.
  • My face is my passport.
  • The piano is an orchestra with 88 … things, you know.
  • There are only three kinds of pianists; Jewish pianists, homosexual pianists, and bad pianists.
  • If I don't practice for a day, I know it. If I don't practice for two days, my wife knows it. If I don't practice for three days, the world knows it


  • Of the Russian pianists I like only one, Richter. Gilels did some things well, but I did not like his mannerisms, the way he moved around while he was playing.
  • I was impressed mostly by Gieseking [Horowitz said in 1987]. He had a finished style, played with elegance, and had a fine musical mind.
  • Emil Sauer was also a good pianist, good technique, style. Very good fingers. He was a Liszt pupil. He was at his best in salon music — Chopin waltzes, things like that. But I heard him play a very good, very correct Op. 109. Some of the Liszt pupils were horrible. One I never could understand was Siloti. He played very badly. Another Liszt pupil was the famous Moriz Rosenthal, and I hated his playing. He couldn't make one nice phrase. I don't understand how he got his fame. Perhaps when I heard him he was too old to have any control. He had dexterity but he had no real technique, and I don't think he really knew how to play the piano. He didn't make music.
  • Backhaus was a wonderful pianist, not really representative of the German style. About him I can speak with real enthusiasm. He was more relaxed than most of them. I once heard him play the Chopin etudes and it was remarkable. In the first one in C major not a single note fell under the piano. It was fantastic. He heard me play Liszt's Feux follets and came up to me. “Horowitz,” he said, “I could never do that.” “Horowitz,” he said, “I could never do that.” But he was being nice. He could have if he wanted. I have often been asked what I consider the most difficult piece I have ever played. I can answer that quickly. It was Feux follets. The Liszt Don Juan is not an easy piece, either.
  • I heard Edwin Fischer, who did not mean much to me. I heard another pianist in Berlin who had a big success and I thought he was awful — Mischa Levitzki. Just fingers, and you cannot listen only to fingers. There is a difference between artist and artisan. Levitzki was an artisan. But Ignaz Friedman, who I admired, was a great artist. He had wonderful fingers and a very personal, individual way of playing, even if some of his ideas were very strange to me. He had no hesitation touching up the music. I got annoyed with him at one concert when he changed the basses in Chopin's F minor Ballade. I didn't like that. For some reason he was happier making records than he was on the stage.
  • I liked him [Arthur Rubinstein] as a pianist. He was a good musician and had a fantastic repertoire. He never had a great technique, but certain things he played well. I heard him play some of the Chopin etudes, the easier ones with great panache and I told him I had never heard them played better. He said, "Do you mean it?" and I said, "Yes, I do mean it."

Quotes about HorowitzEdit

  • I don’t believe that about his Chopin, actually. I think his Chopin was extraordinarily perceptive and terribly personal. ... On the criticism of Horowitz’ Chopin, I haven’t heard that myself, but I think that comes down to taste.

External linksEdit

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