Vladimir Horowitz

Great Pianists Profile:

The Jolly Times

Wanda Toscanini and Vladimir Horowitz were always in for a dance or a quarrel.

"Because my playing is very clear when I make a mistake, you hear it. If you want me to play only the notes without any specific dynamics, I will never make one mistake. Never be afraid to dare."

I Must Tell You, I Take Terrible Risks

Horowitz used round fingers as the essence of his piano finger technique

Round Fingers

Horowitz used a flat finger technique mostly when playing chords, octaves, and black keys.

Flat Finger Technique

"To be able to produce many varieties of sound, and that is what I try to do. I think each pianist must ultimately carve his own way, technically and stylistically."

Now That Is What I Call Technique

"For me, the intellect is always the guide but not the goal of the performance. Too much intellect can become scholastic. Too much heart can become schmaltz. Too much technique, and you become a mechanic."

The Thinker

"If you want me to play only the notes without any specific dynamics, I will never make one mistake."

Never Be Afraid To Dare

"I don’t like the Russian approach to music, to art, to anything. I lost all my family there. I never want to go back, and I never will."

I Have No Desire To Return

On his arrival in New York in 1928, Horowitz was announced: ”The Tornado of the Steppes, a superhuman combination of Rosenthal, Paderewski, Busoni, Rachmaninov, and Hofmann.”

The Tornado Of The Steppes

"I tried playing for the public, and I selected music that I thought would be pleasing to them. Times are different now. Today, I play the music I want, and I just try to do my best."

I Just Try To Do My Best

"When I was a teenager, my life was sports. I dearly loved playing baseball, and I was a darn good hitter."

Horowitz On Sports

"As Chopin and Mozart said, the left hand is your conductor; the right hand is the solo. Then there is rubato. Rubato, you know, is robbing the time, making it faster here and slower there."

Pianists Need To Know How I Feel About Tempo

At The Film Studios

"I may play the same program from one recital to the next, but I will play it differently, and because it is always different, it is always new."

"You know, I’m at heart a composer, so I do it naturally. Some of my improvisations are tremendous, some are very poor."

I Was Always A Good Improviser

To Barenboim: "You are a pianist. A true pianist, a real pianist, must play the piano. He must not divide himself."

Why are you conducting?

"Chopin would have changed a lot of things if he had a Steinway. Of that, I’m sure, oh yes! You can’t play them well if you follow Chopin’s metronome markings. They are too fast. They are all terrible."

Chopin’s Etudes Are Impossible On The Modern Piano

"My father-in-law was the law. He was more difficult than me."

On Arturo Toscanini:

”Already, I knew he was the best. I fell in love with Volodya’s pedaling.”

Wanda Toscanini:

”If Rachmaninoff is not a good composer, isn’t he at least the greatest pianist today?” The Maestro replied vehemently, ”He? Never in the world! It’s Volodya who is the greatest because what he can do is superhuman!”

Question To Toscanini:

"All three should be equally developed. Without common sense, you are a fiasco, without technique an amateur, without heart a machine."

Common Sense, Heart And Technical Resources

"I was a terrible student. For me, to take a book home was a trial."


"What they ask of us to do should be forbidden. The public knows nothing of what is required, knows nothing of the hell of work required."

You Know, Composers Often Are Cruel

"The thing is to become a master and, in your old age, to acquire the courage to do what children did when they knew nothing."


"I’m only a tree, a big one or little one, I don’t know.” What about Liszt? ”Liszt is so high that we can’t even see the top. It’ll still take years for us to fully understand his importance in music.”

Rachmaninov Is A Giant Redwood

"His music is supersensuous, super romantic, and super mysterious. Everything is super; it is all a little overboard. Anyway, my parents were pleased that I played for him."

My Uncle Brought Me To Scriabin

"The more you know, the more difficult it gets. So every piece is difficult."

Every Piece Is Difficult

"That's what the interpreter must find out. He may sit down and play one passage one way and then perhaps exaggerate the next, but, in any event, he must do something with the music. The worst thing is not to do anything."

Behind The Notes, Something Different Is Told

"Scriabin slept with Chopin under his pillow, and I slept with Wagner under mine. I had all of 'Gotterdammerung' in my fingers."

I Could Not Concentrate On Memorizing Bach Fugues

My Face Is My Passport

"A pianist can be a good American when he plays Barber, a good Pole playing Chopin, a good Russian with Tchaikovsky, a good Frenchman with Debussy, or a good German with Beethoven. A pianist is a citizen of the world."

 "The most important thing is to make a percussive instrument a singing instrument. Teachers should stress this aspect in their instruction, but it seems that very few of them actually do."

Make The Piano Sing

"I am never afraid to dare. The music is behind those dots."

The Score Is Not A Bible

”Oh, sure, many times. These are times of despair. But the piano always brings me back. It calls me.”

Did You Ever Feel Like A Prisoner Of The Piano, A Slave To It?

"The piano is the easiest instrument to play at the beginning and the hardest to master in the end."

Nothing Is Ever Conquered