Wednesday, April 20, 2011

25 years ago today...

The date of April 20 is pregnant with historical import. The French Revolutionary wars began on April 20, 1792. Hitler was born in Austria on this date in 1889. 110 years later, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 people and injured 24 others before committing suicide at Columbine High School in Colorado. Last year, the Deepwater Horizon oil well exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing eleven workers and beginning an oil spill that would last five months.

But I prefer to remember April 20th by a happier occasion that took place in 1986: Vladimir Horowitz's first concert in his native Russia since he defected from that country in 1925. I clearly recall the sense of anticipation as I awakened in Haverhill, Massachusetts that Sunday morning to watch a live telecast of the concert, on a black & white television. Despite the grain and lack of cable TV quality, I couldn't take my eyes off that event, as the 82 year old man shuffled onstage, patted his piano like a beloved pet, and began spinning sounds that had no right to be heard from a percussion instrument. I even recorded the recital on a small audio cassette recorder, and when the VHS tape was issued, I bought my first VCR.

Click here to read my review of the CD.

Click here to read my review of the DVD.


Anonymous said...

I was in Massachusetts too, watching on a small B&W TV too. :)

Alexander Arsov said...

Thanks for sharing these memories, Hank. Likewise about the VH concert you attended or the effect his Kreisleriana had on you when you first heard it. Always appreciated.

Have you any explanation, other than sheer idiocy, why DG cut so much of the Moscow recital when it was released on CD?

Hank Drake said...

Thank you Alexander! Regarding Horowitz in Moscow - I would imagine both the performance selection (some pieces on that CD were recorded at the April 18 rehearsal) and final program were left to Horowitz's approval.