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Horowitz FAQs & Awards

Horowitz FAQs


Rather than an full-scale written biography, this should be considered as something of a Horowitz dictionary were one can turn for quick information regarding Horowitz's life. This page also includes a list of awards given to Horowitz.



Vladimir Horowitz

October 1, 1903 - Kiev (Ukraine), Russian Empire  ---  November 5, 1989 - New York City (Heart-Attack)
*Horowitz's exact place of birth has been the subject of some confusion.  The pianist always named Kiev as his birthplace.  In the 1980s, Glenn Plaskin's biography cited a rabinnical certificate claiming Berdichev as Horowitz's birthplace.  More recently, however, his municipal birth record was located in the Kiev city archives.  In addition, for decades, references listed Horowitz's year of birth as 1904.  This was the result of a family member altering Horowitz's identification in order for the young pianist to avoid military service. The elder Horowitz himself affirmed this, so we can be certain that 1903 is the correct year of birth.     




Naturalized U.S. Citizen, 1944

Jewish (non-observant)

Political Affiliation
Registered Democrat


December 21, 1933: Wanda Giorgina Toscanini (December 7, 1907 - August 21, 1998)

Sonia Toscanini Horowitz (October 2, 1934 - January 10, 1975)

Childhood and Adolescence: 
Music Lane, Kiev.

14 East 94th Street, New York. Horowitz reportedly purchased this home in 1940, by selling a collection of musical snuff boxes, for $30,000. Its estimated value at the time of his death was 100 times that much.

Horowitz owned a small home in New Milford, Connecticut

Pinci's Acres, Ashfield, Massachusetts. Following Horowitz's death, Wanda purchased this home and stocked it with American antiques and Horowitz memorabilia. She divided her time between this home and the New York residence. "Pinci" was Wanda's pet name for Horowitz, reflecting his mispronunciation of Ottorino Respigi's "Pini di Roma."

During the 1960s Horowitz had two Poodles (one black, one white) named Peppi and Pippo. During the 1970s, Horowitz adopted a stray cat and named it Fussy (pronounced foosi).

When he went to England after his American tour, Horowitz had enough left over to buy a Studebaker. He had $6,000 in the bank and the Studebaker cost him $5,000, an enormous sum during that era. Horowitz never learned to drive his automobile and had to engage a chauffeur. Driving a car was too hard for him, he said.  Later in life, Wanda drove, but she was not a skilled driver either.  She once ran over one of her poodles, crushing one of its hind legs and requiring an amputation. It later became known as the piano dog since it had only three legs.

Physical Characteristics
Horowitz, in his younger years, had thick brown hair and eyes, stood 5'9" tall, and had a slender, wiry build. In the 1960s, a skin blemish appeared on his right temple, which continued to grow and darken until his death. In the late 1970s and 1980s, Horowitz put on a moderate amount of weight, but unlike many older people, he maintained excellent posture. In later years, Horowitz's hair began thinning and graying (he briefly colored his hair in the early 1980s).

Very much a night person, Horowitz usually slept until Noon. After a light breakfast, the pianist would take a two mile walk. It was customary for the pianist to retire in the early morning hours, between 2 and 4 AM. Like many of his generation, Horowitz was, in his younger years, a cigarette smoker. After the American Surgeon General released a report, in 1966, linking cigarette smoking with various health problems such as lung cancer, Horowitz reduced his cigarette consumption drastically. By the mid-1980s, he had quit smoking entirely. Horowitz was a moderate drinker, and in later years, abstained from alcohol altogether. 

Horowitz enjoyed mountain climbing and hiking until a bout with Phlebitis in 1936. He also enjoyed fishing. Horowitz casually followed sports including professional Wrestling, Boxing, Basketball, and Baseball (his favorite teams were the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals). When socializing with friends at home the preferred games involved cards (he was especially skilled at Canasta). Horowitz enjoyed cinema and, in the early years, was known to cancel an appearance in order to go to a movie. In later years, Horowitz owned a VCR (which went with him when he was touring) and regularly rented films. His tastes ran to action and science-fiction fare (The Terminator was a favorite of his). Horowitz began collecting bow ties in the 1950s, and at the time of his death, his collection was said to number nearly six-hundred.

     Horowitz during a game of Chess in 1985.  
        Despite assertions by some,
      he was not a particularly skilled player. 

Health issues

Mental and Emotional
Horowitz suffered from extreme mood swings, which ranged from extreme elation to profound despair. Though there is no evidence to support the rumors that Horowitz was ever institutionalized, the pianist sought Electroshock treatment in the early 1960s and early 1970s. During the early 1980s, Horowitz, on the advice of a psychiatrist, began using antidepressant medications which severely impaired his performances. Use of medication was discontinued in 1984.

Operation for removal of Appendix, 1936; Phlebitis, 1936; Operation for removal of Prostate Gland, 1978. Horowitz suffered from numerous intestinal disorders, including Spastic Colitis which made performing a challenge. During the 1950s, Horowitz began to gain control over his intestinal problems by restricting himself to a low-fat, low-salt, non-spiced diet consisting mostly of vegetables, fish, and water. In later years, Horowitz maintained his health by daily two mile walks.  Horowitz was nearsighted and frequently wore eyeglasses, but tried to avoid being photographed in them.  Around 1970, most of Horowitz's teeth were replaced by dentures.

Horowitz's Pianos
Early in 1934, as a wedding present, Steinway presented Vladimir and Wanda Horowitz with a Steinway Model D, Serial #CD279503 (the "C" denotes for pianos deemed worthy by Steinway for Concert use. The "D" indicates the size of piano, in this case, nine feet long). 

In the early 1940s, this piano was replaced with CD314503. This is the piano Horowitz kept in his New York townhouse, and used in recitals and recordings from 1974-1981 and 1985-1987.

CD186 (Steinway often dropped the first three digits with "CD" pianos) was selected by Horowitz for his return recital in 1965. (He described the tone as "more mellow [than his other piano], more like the human voice.") CD186 was used for subsequent concerts and recording sessions until it suffered catastrophic failure in late 1972 and was retired from professional use.

CD223 was Horowitz's piano while he kept a summer home in New Milford, Connecticut. It replaced CD186 for Horowitz's last Columbia sessions in late 1972/early 1973.

CD75, built in 1911, was found by Franz Mohr, Horowitz's tuner, in Steinway's basement and restored by him. Horowitz used the piano from 1981-1983.

CD443, Horowitz's last piano, was selected by Horowitz for home use, to avoid the inconvenience of hauling CD314503 from Horowitz's second floor living room when he went on tour. At first Horowitz had reservations about the piano's action (which was rather heavy) but came to love the instrument so much that, when he briefly considered concertizing in 1989, he planned to take CD443 with him. This piano was used for recording sessions made at Horowitz's home in 1988 and 1989.

Record Labels
1928-1959: RCA (some recordings during this period were made by RCA's European affiliate, HMV)
1962-1973: Columbia Masterworks
1975-1983: RCA
1985-1989: Deutsche Grammophon
1989: Sony Classical

1936-1938: Retired due to complications from an Appendectomy and Phlebitis, possible depressed period
1953-1965: Retired due to nervous collapse, brought on by intense performing schedule and difficulties with colitis, continued to record
1969-1974: Retired for unknown reasons, possible depressed period, continued to record
1983-1985: Retirement due to unsatisfactory performances caused by medication side-effect
1987-1989: Final retirement, continued to record until his death

Last Words
"Please, no chicken tonight, and none of that salmon we ate the other evening. I prefer a nice steamed sole."

Burial Site
Horowitz's grave is part of the Toscanini family plot in the Cimitero Monumentale in Milan. Located in the northern part of the central city, it can be reached on foot or by bus. The entrance is at Piazzale del Cimitero, off the Via Ceresio near the Porta Volta. The Toscanini plot is about 300 feet from the gate, visitors can ask for directions to the plot at the information booth just to the left side of the main entrance.  In addition to Horowitz, Wanda and Sonia are buried there as well.  In 2004, vandals entered the crypt and broke into Wanda's coffin, apparently searching for jewelry.

Horowitz's burial site, the Toscanini family plot in Milan

Horowitz's Last Will and Testament was filed in New York shortly after his death. His estate was valued between $6-8 million. He left the bulk of his estate to his wife, Wanda. Horowitz's manager, Peter Gelb (who later beceme president of Sony Classical) was named, along with Wanda, co-executor of his estate. His companion and confidante, Giuliana Lopes, was given $250,000. Horowitz set aside $300,000 to Juilliard to help needy piano students, with the stipulation that Juilliard never create a piano competition bearing his name. In accordance with his wishes, the bulk of his correspondence, music, and recordings were donated to the music library of Yale University.

Upon Wanda's death, the bulk of the remaining estate was distributed among several charities, particularly Guiding Eyes for the Blind (which provides guide dogs for the blind), which received ownership of the New York townhouse, which was sold for several million dollars. 

Royalties from the sale of Horowitz's recordings continue to go to those charities.

Immortal Words

- 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 interfer 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.

- I am a perfectionist.  Before I walk on stage I have to be sure that my shoes are tied, and that my fly is closed.  If they are open they are terrible.

- My face is my passport.

- The piano is an orchestra with 88...... things, you know.

Copyright © 2015 Hank Drake



GRAMMY: Best Classical Performance-Instrumental Soloist(s) (without orchestra)
(Columbia Records Presents Vladimir Horowitz)

GRAMMY: Best Classical Album 
(Columbia Records Presents Vladimir Horowitz)


GRAMMY: Best Classical Performance-Instrumental Soloist(s) (without orchestra)
(The Sound Of Horowitz)


GRAMMY: Best Classical Performance-Instrumental Soloist(s) (without orchestra)
(Vladimir Horowitz Plays Beethoven, Debussy & Chopin)


GRAMMY: Best Classical Performance-Instrumental Soloist(s) (without orchestra)
(Horowitz At Carnegie Hall - An Historic Return)

GRAMMY: Best Classical Album
(Horowitz At Carnegie Hall - An Historic Return)


Grand Prix de Discophiles


GRAMMY: Best Performance, Instrumental Soloist(s) (with or without orchestra)
(Horowitz In Concert)


GRAMMY: Best Performance, Instrumental Soloist(s) (with or without orchestra)
(Horowitz On Television)


Prix Mondial du Disque


GRAMMY: Best Classical Performance-Instrumental Soloist(s) (without orchestra)
(Horowitz Plays Rachmaninoff)

GRAMMY: Best Classical Album
(Horowitz Plays Rachmaninoff)


Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society

GRAMMY: Best Classical Performance-Instrumental Soloist(s) (without orchestra)
(Horowitz Plays Chopin)


GRAMMY: Best Classical Performance-Instrumental Soloist(s) (without orchestra)
(Scriabin: Horowitz Plays Scriabin)


GRAMMY: Best Classical Performance-Instrumental Soloist(s) (without orchestra)
(Horowitz Concerts 1975/76)


GRAMMY: Best Classical Album
(Concert Of The Century)


GRAMMY: Best Classical Performance-Instrumental Soloist(s) (without orchestra)
(The Horowitz Concerts 1977/78)

GRAMMY: Best Classical Performance-Instrumental Soloist(s) (with orchestra)
(Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No.3 in D Minor, Op.30 (Horowitz Golden Jubilee))


GRAMMY: Best Classical Performance-Instrumental Soloist(s) (without orchestra)
(The Horowitz Concerts 1978/79)


GRAMMY: Best Classical Performance-Instrumental Soloist(s) (without orchestra)
(The Horowitz Concerts 1979/80)


Wolf Foundation Prize for Music


Legion of Honor from the French Government

Order of Merit from the Italian Government


GRAMMY: Best Classical Album
(Horowitz: The Studio Recordings, New York 1985)

GRAMMY: Best Performance, Instrumental Soloist(s) (with or without orchestra)
(Horowitz: The Studio Recordings, New York 1985)

United States Presidential Medal of Freedom


GRAMMY: Best Classical Performance-Instrumental Soloist(s) (without orchestra)
(Horowitz In Moscow)

GRAMMY: Best Classical Album
(Horowitz In Moscow)


National Bow-Tie Wearer's Association Award

GRAMMY: Best Classical Performance-Instrumental Soloist(s) (with orchestra)
(Mozart: Piano Concerto No.23)


GRAMMY: Best Classical Performance-Instrumental Soloist(s) (without orchestra)
(The Last Recording)


GRAMMY: Best Classical Performance-Instrumental Soloist(s) (without orchestra)
(Horowitz - Discovered Treasures)

Copyright © 2003 Hank Drake and Christian Johansson

Copyright © 2010 Hank Drake