When Horowitz and Rachmaninoff Met

Any remarks or questions on the life of Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff can be posted here.
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Re: When Horowitz and Rachmaninoff Met

Postby RACHBOY » Fri Apr 30, 2010 11:21 pm


Do you perhaps have a clearer scan of these interesting notes? Especially towards the right the letters difficult to see!

Zane wrote:Here's a photo of LP liner notes by Abram Chasins (Rachmaninoff 3rd Concerto Horowitz/Reiner). Would someone like to transcribe the notes into type, and then post?



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Re: When Horowitz and Rachmaninoff Met

Postby kurtdaniel » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:16 am

wow,, this is such a historic event!! :) Im currently having some piano lesson.. and our teacher just introduced to us Horowits and Rach. They're both great..

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Re: When Horowitz and Rachmaninoff Met

Postby Zane » Thu Sep 08, 2016 2:41 am


Below is my typed transcription of germane parts of Abram Chasins' comments shown in the photo-scan of record liner notes.

January of 1928 was a memorable month in the musical life of Vladimir Horowitz. One would immediately assume that its chief significance centered around his sensational New York debut under the baton of Sir Thomas Beecham, who also made his first American appearance that historic night. But one would b wrong. For Horowitz already knew tumultuous recognition. He had already vanquished audiences in great cities like Leningrad, Berlin, Paris and Rome. Something else happened to him—it happened a few days after his arrival in the city which was to become his home; and one day before he was to conquer it with a flaming performance of Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto, Horowitz realized what was to him an even greater dream. He met his idol, Sergei Rachmaninov.

Rachmaninov was then fifty-five. For some years he had been hearing from Russian friends about a young firebrand named Horowitz who had created a furor with twenty-three recitals in Leningrad within one season. The latest report about this remarkable youth of twenty-four had come from Fritz Kreisler who had heard him in Berlin. It spurred Rachmaninov to invite Horowitz to his apartment. One hour after Horowitz walked in they were friends.

At that first meeting, Rachmaninov did not press Horowitz to play for him, but the next evening he attended Horowitz’ debut, as did Hofmann, Lhevinne, Moiseiwitsch and every other pianist in town. The critics groped for new superlatives to describe the triumph, but it was a letter from Rachmaninov containing warm praise and sober advice which meant most to Horowitz.

Six weeks later, he was scheduled to play Rachmaninov's Third Concerto under Walter Damrosch who had fathered its premiere almost two decades before with Rachmaninov as soloist. Before the event, Rachmaninov offered to play the orchestral part on a second piano with Horowitz playing the solo part. They met in the famed basement of Steinway's piano salon on New York's "Music Row." Horowitz modestly told me that Rachmaninov said very little, that he merely made a few suggestions. But Rachmaninov told me that he was completely astounded that he listened open-mouthed as Horowitz pounced upon the fiendish piece with the fury and voraciousness of a tiger. "He swallowed it whole," said Rachmaninov.

Through the years, here and abroad, Rachmaninov and Horowitz spent long hours playing together and for each other: on one piano and two pianos, in solo works, music for four-hands, concertos and two-piano compositions. I never heard any of those sessions; those who have swear that they remain as the most vividly indelible musical experiences of their lives.

Rachmaninov's own pianistic art was unique. It cannot be imitated. It cannot be adopted. And this is equally true of Horowitz and, incidentally, of every true artist. As we hear performances of Rachmaninov's works other than his own, we must be especially mindful that each artist's personality is the prime material of his interpretive privileges and obligations in re-creating music. Therefore, we welcome every "originality" provided it is faithful to the essential character of the music as we know it from the authoritative sources now available…

It was to Horowitz that Rachmaninov commented wryly, "I wrote this piece for elephants." And it was Horowitz' performances of it no less than Rachmaninov's which occasioned me to remark elsewhere that Rachmaninov must have been referring to elephants with the mobility of whippets and the grace of gazelles.
-- Abram Chasins

Below is an added account on Horowitz' and SVR's 1928 meeting in the basement of Steinway Hall, at 109 W. 57th Street in New York.

In 1971, I met a film composer in Hollywood named Emilio Fuchs. Mr. Fuchs had studied with Zoltan Kodaly and Maurice Ravel, and told me that Alexander ("Sascha") Greiner—the artist manager at Steinway in New York—had observed some of the interaction between Horowitz and SVR during their now famous 1928 meeting in the Steinway basement. According to Emilio Fuchs, Alexander Greiner heard Rachmaninoff firmly tell Horowitz to play the first movement of the Third Concerto faster, and Horowitz complied—at least at that two-piano rehearsal with the composer. Greiner had also told Fuchs that Rachmaninoff and Horowitz mutually agreed on cutting a small section near the end of the primary piano cadenza (not of the ossia) in order to maximize speed.

Finally: For those who would like to hear the uncut principal cadenza of the Third at full speed and power, I suggest Zoltan Kocsis' hair-raising recorded performance with Edo de Waart conducting. And Mr. Kocsis plays the concerto at the speed SVR himself recorded.


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