1951: An Historic Vladimir Horowitz Recital, Packed With Encores

WQXR at 75

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In 1951, WQXR gave the first-ever radio broadcast of a Carnegie Hall recital by the piano giant Vladimir Horowitz. It was a sold-out concert, with stage seating added to accommodate a few additional fans. The announcer rightly notes that this was broadcast on the "rural radio FM network" and "Mr. Horowitz’s performance renders a great service to the public."

The broadcast only encompasses the concert's second half, which features Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (in Horowitz’s own arrangement) plus encores including his own "Stars and Stripes Forever."

Below: Three experts join host Jeff Spurgeon to offer their views on this historic broadcast.


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Comments [16]

Roger Dawson Jr from Marlton N.J.

Great Recording from 1951 keep em comeing! Thank's.

Oct. 26 2012 05:52 PM
David Campbell from Ireland

There are three recordings of the Pictures, played by Horowitz, circulating at present.
They are his studio performance of 1947, the Carnegie Hall of 1951, both of which are well known, and a recently issued Carnegie Hall of 1948, (in The Private Collection series, from Sony).
There was always something special about Horowitz in live performance, notwithstanding the quality of his many studio recordings. The most exciting, in my view, is the 1951. Very interesting is the slightly more introspective and poetic 1948.
Horowitz's reworking of the rather dull original score is magnificent.
If you must have the original, Richter, Sofia, is, if you can put up with the sounds of an audience seemingly at death's door with consumption, the one to go for.

Mar. 12 2012 09:09 PM
debbi from nyc

Who is the announcer? Thank you.

Jan. 15 2012 05:02 PM
J Nernoff from PA

Little compares with the adventure a teen boy experiences with tuning in a great arrtist render a most mysterious piece in the evening dark wih an old radio with a "green seeing eye" tuning tube, Unforgettable. Love it,

Nov. 27 2011 12:13 AM
hophmi from Brooklyn, NY

I don't think any Pictures compares to this one. It has nothing to do with the alterations to the Great Gate and everything to do with the way Horowitz brings every one of these miniatures to life.

Nov. 18 2011 08:51 AM
Michael Brenner from Brooklyn, NY

I'm assuming this is the same one as the record.

Nov. 17 2011 05:50 PM
Wade Alexander from San Luis Obispo CA

Now, thanks to on-line features I can once again listen to WQRX.
For many years I was able to listen via Public radio in Ithaca and Syracuse NY.

Oct. 22 2011 01:56 PM
Michael Meltzer

Mr. Schnall's comment is not just academic. The younger, leaner Horowitz had an appearance some called "satanic," and that went well with his feats and effects. Age softened his appearance considerably, as per WQXR's choice of photos.
As for "Pictures at an Exhibition," the only other recording that begins to compare with Horowitz' is not one of the Ravel orchestration, but the piano solo recording by Svatislav Richter

Oct. 16 2011 03:21 AM
marta pont from Buenos Aires

It was a wonderful experience!! Thx WQXR.

Oct. 14 2011 10:57 AM
Tom Fiorillo from Speonk NY

Forty years ago a family friend in his 60's played a recording of a Horowitz concert for me, telling me when he attended a Horowitz concert, he was shocked to hear someone call out "Stars and Stripes" during the encores. And then, Horowitz played it, and he said he then knew why it had been requested. Thanks for this wonderful concert, I love the term "rural FM," those were the days.

Oct. 14 2011 07:58 AM
Dóriclo Daniel from Lisbon , Portugal

With Horowitz everything seems easy. What a treat to hear that great pianist. Thanks WQXR for the possibility to go back in time and listen to great pieces of music by a legendary pianist.

Oct. 14 2011 04:51 AM
John Chan from Hong Kong


John Chan
in Hong Kong

Oct. 14 2011 04:47 AM

The last encore Mr. Horowitz played, Stars and Stripes Forever put the final signature of that great concert by an exceptional artist.

Oct. 13 2011 06:21 PM
Neil Schnall

1. Why is a photo of the elderly Horowitz used to illustrate a discussion promoting a performance in 1951, at which time he was not yet 50?
2. Contrary to the assertions of some of the discussants, Horowitz made plenty of errors in performance. SONY recently re-released an unretouched version of the 1965 "Historic Return" [to Carnegie Hall] concert that had previously been available only in the version with lots of edits to fix the mistakes.

Oct. 13 2011 02:29 PM
Tim Brown from Washington, DC

Orchestrations of Pictures at an Exhibition pale in comparison to Horowitz's piano performance. Fabulous, nasty stuff.

Oct. 13 2011 01:39 PM
LES from Washington DC

Enjoyed it very much, along with the snap, crackle and pop of the audio. The piano-only version of Pictures at an Exhibition was a pleasure. Thank you for the history lesson.

Oct. 13 2011 08:44 AM

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