Once in awhile, something is really life changing, even if we don't realize it at the time or listen to the calling. For me, one such moment was in March 1978, when I attended a concert of Vladimir Horowitz. Attending this concert was not even my own doing. I was invited by a friend from school and really had no concept of what I was going to see or even the rarity or what I now view as priceless seats for that event. We were in the first raised area of seats at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, providing a perfect view of the piano, the keys, and of course Horowitz himself. Coming from a small town in central Pennsylvania, attending very few concerts "in the city", and unaware of the history of Horowitz and his many years of not performing in public, I still cannot fathom now that I had this wonderful opportunity and the amazing generosity of another fellow pianist from school who gave this to me.
The program included Mozart, Chopin and Rachmaninoff, including Chopin's Sonata in B-flat Minor, Opus 35, which has the famous "funeral march". I felt nothing but pure astonishment as the chords for this rang out through the concert hall. One of the encores was Schumann's Träumerei, Op.15 No.7. The sheer beauty and simplicity of this was transfixing - every note had meaning and purpose. Later, I was able to watch the wonderful movie of Horowitz returning to Moscow in 1986 to perform, and again hear his 'Träumerei' which held even more significance for that audience.
As I graduated from undergraduate school, my piano teacher, composer Margaret Garwood, gave me two recordings of Horowitz, including a live recording of Horowitz playing Rachmaninoff's Concerto No. 3 with the New York Philharmonic in January 1978, actually 3 months before I was to see him. These were special recordings to her, and also to me, at a time when I felt I was letting my teacher down by concentrating on my flute for graduate school, rather than the piano. I was very aware of my limitations in virtuosity and didn't know what purpose there was to my music, but I held onto those recordings, and I continued to listen and remember.
Fast forward to today and why I am writing this. Jacobs Music of Delaware announced a Horowitz piano tour with an opportunity to play this piano by appointment. This was not any piano - this was CD314503, the piano he took to Moscow on his return to Russia, and I've since determined, also the piano in his apartment for his interview with Mike Wallace, and the piano I heard him play. Even being in the same room with this piano is much closer than any "degrees of separation" I can imagine between people. I promptly responded and requested a possible appointment time, expecting maybe 10 minutes or so. When I confirmed the time, I found I was given a full hour. Even writing this is emotional for me! At any rate, on May 1 at 11 a.m. I will be in an amazing musical vortex, and while this isn't a public concert, if you happen to be in Wilmington, Delaware that day you're welcome to stop by:
Jacobs Music of Delaware
2800 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE 19803
Tuesday, May 1
11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
And if, as I expect, most of you are elsewhere working, etc., take a moment to think on the amazing connections and events that can be life-changing, even when we aren't aware of it at the time.