Friday, May 29, 2015

A Letter From Vladimir Horowitz - to Me(!)

I have that letter in front of me. It is dated October 31, 1988,  from his E. 94th Street address.   It was written  and sent by his secretary, Beatrice Stein. The contents:
Dear Mr. ____________(my name),
Mr. Horowitz has seen your letter to him of October 17th and he has asked me to inform you that the Danse Excentrique has never been published. Nor does he have a written score for the music.
He is very sorry not to be able to help you out in this instance.
He does send his good wishes and kind regards to you.
Very Truly Yours,
Beatrice Stein

So; why did I send him my request?
Well, the only recordings I know  of one of very few Horowitz compositions  always intrigued me as a teenager, as I knew that his primary pursuit as a youngster was to be a composer first, and a pianist second. And even though  "Danse Excentrique"  is a less than masterful piece of writing(a rather blatant replication of quasi-Impressionism, with some 'jazzy' insertions), it  struck me in 1988 that I should like to learn and perform it, simply because it seemed that no one else I was aware of  had ever learned and played it publicly.
 There was another letter written to him(which, sadly, I cannot find) before the letter you see above; namely a request to get his fabled transcriptions, so that I could study the secrets of his imagery as a writer of his own  pyrotechnical incarnations. His answer (which, even more sadly, I cannot find at this time), surprised me, in that all eleven transcriptions had never been written down. I guess (and can only speculate), that he had decided to take them in arcane fashion to his grave so that no one else could play his very personal treasures; or, perhaps, he did not have the techniques to WRITE what he could 'image out' through his fingers. I cannot be sure why they were never  written down.
But a fellow named Kong-Ju Lee has spent about 25 years getting to actually write down all 11 transcriptions (I wonder how many pints of blood he exuded during this period?)
Copies can be gotten.
I have recently heard some of these transcriptions played. I am not counting the few transcriptions that Arcadi Volodos has  learned by listening to Horowitz recordings countless times.
Would Horowitz have approved of  the unveiling of his sacred property?
Or would he approve and admire the attainment of this rather unique unveiling?
My intuit modality informs me that he would have been rather upset.
What do you think?
I had almost forgotten - his letters  were especially 'sweet victory' for me, as I knew that his policy regarding correspondence was a refusal, in general, to discuss the subject of music, and he limited his subjects to issues such as recipes for lemon sole, which was a favorite dish of his. Upon my writing to him, I never really expected any reply from the Maestro, and was thrilled indeed to be a direct witness to the breaking of  his own rules concerning music in his personal correspondence.



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