Consolation No. 3

FRIDAY, September 27, 2019

Popular for 116 years…

Vladimir Horowitz was born in 1903, and at the time of this recording he was 84. He died just two years later, a massive heart attack that killed him instantly. Just before his death he made a last, magnificent studio recording.

Saying he has been popular for more than 100 years may be an exaggeration, since he was not famous at the time he was born, obviously. But he was famous by his late teens, so saying he’s been very popular for around 100 years is not too far wrong.

Popular for 169 years…

This short piece by Liszt was written around 1850. There are actually four Consolations, but this one, the third, is the only one most people know and has been enormously popular since it was written. Liszt was a “rock star” in his own time. People went nuts in his concerts. Ladies fainted. People went wild with applause. He was a showman and played with big movements and a ton of drama. Chopin, one of his close friends, was annoyed at his showmanship and basically said: “For God’s sake Franz, why don’t you just play and knock off all the cheap theatrics.” But showmanship for performers has never stopped.

Horowitz was famous for barely moving while playing. If you see him with the sound down, it looks like he’s doing nothing, and he always played that way even when young. But his performances were electrifying, and to this day he is known as one of the most dazzling performers every to play the piano. He was still amazing audiences in his 80s.

 

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