Thursday, January 12, 2012

Two Giants in Music - A Day Like No Other...

In April of 1943, the Second World War started to turn in our favor. American troops had landed in North Africa and were becoming an intrinsic part of the final defeat of Rommel's vaunted Afrika Korps. Hitler, like Napoleon, was beginning to understand the mammoth mistake of invading a country about one sixth the size of the earth's land mass, and Mother Russia was beginning to exact an irreversible toll on Hitler's invaders.
These kinds of events were being witnessed by the American citizenry, and in the widening glow of hope now being felt, two great musicians decided to add their part by arranging to perform in Carnegie Hall, on one condition; namely, that the only way of admission would be to purchase a War Bond.
Well, the news spread like wildfire from coast to coast, and even though thousands of citizens knew that only a few could fit into Carnegie, the spirit of the moment, within just a few days, produced a staggering eleven million dollars of War Bonds in sales. Imagine what eleven million dollars in 1943 would be worth today!
And so, on April 25, 1943, the legendary pianist Vladimir Horowitz and his equally famous father-in-law, Arturo Toscanini performed the Tchaikowsky Piano Concerto. Both audience and performers were transformed by a kind of electricity produced by the reason for the event, and the strange, totally arcane chemistry of audience and performers became a form of 'oneness' that may never again be replicated. The result was a performance of illimitable and yet controlled frenzy that establishes this reading of the concerto as one on a pedestal of its own making.
Do try to get hold of this recording - you may very well be drawn into its own vortex, such as I was, and continue to be, when I choose to again be witness to such a unique event in the history of music.



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