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Vladimir Horowitz (October 1 1903 – November 5, 1989)

According to piano virtuoso Vladimir Horowitz, “There are three kinds of pianists: Jewish pianists, homosexual pianists, and bad pianists.” Horowitz himself fit under two of those categories. He achieved international fame during a career that spanned six decades. In 1933 he married Wanda Toscanini under pressure from her father, the famous conductor Arturo Toscanini. The marriage was unhappy, not least because Horowitz continued to have trysts with young men. Later in life Horowitz became more open, frequenting gay bars with his lover. Once, when invited to dinner at the home of gay director George CUKOR, Horowitz accepted, but said, “However, I would much rather come on Sunday.” (Sunday parties at Cukor’s were notorious gatherings of Hollywood’s most eligible gay young men.) Horowitz’ sexuality has been well documented in several books, including the Glann Plaskin and Harold Schonberg biographies.

Arthur Rubinstein said of Horowitz that "Everyone knew and accepted him as a homosexual." David Dubal wrote that in his years with Horowitz, there was no evidence that the octogenarian was sexually active, but that "there was no doubt he was powerfully attracted to the male body and was most likely often sexually frustrated throughout his life." Dubal observed that Horowitz sublimated a strong instinctual sexuality into a powerful erotic undercurrent which was communicated in his piano playing.

In the 1940s, Horowitz began seeing a psychiatrist. According to sources, this was an attempt to alter his sexual orientation. In the 1960s and again in the 1970s, the pianist underwent electroshock treatment for depression.



In 1982, Horowitz began using prescribed anti-depressant medications; there are reports that he was drinking alcohol as well. Consequently, his playing underwent a perceptible decline during this period. The pianist’s 1983 performances in the United States and Japan were marred by memory lapses and a loss of physical control. (At the latter, one Japanese critic likened Horowitz to a "precious antique vase that is cracked.") He stopped playing in public for the next two years.

Stern, Keith (2009-09-01). Queers in History: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Historical Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals (Kindle Locations 6358-6361). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.

Further Readings:

Horowitz: His Life and Music by Harold C. Schonberg
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (November 1, 1992)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0671725688
ISBN-13: 978-0671725686
Amazon: Horowitz: His Life and Music

A biography of the piano virtuoso, peppered with quotes from Horowitz himself, describes the musician's 1986 homecoming to the U.S.S.R., childhood in Kiev, experiences as a Jewish student at the Moscow Conservatory, and more. 20,000 first printing.

Horowitz: A Biography of Vladimir Horowitz by Glenn Plaskin
Paperback
Publisher: Quill; First Edition edition (November 1984)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0688026567
ISBN-13: 978-0688026561
Amazon: Horowitz: A Biography of Vladimir Horowitz

Queer Episodes in Music and Modern Identity by Sophie Fuller & Lloyd Whitesell
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 1St Edition edition (May 23, 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 025202740X
ISBN-13: 978-0252027406
Amazon: Queer Episodes in Music and Modern Identity

"Queer Episodes in Music and Modern Identity" approaches modern sexuality by way of music. Through the hidden or lost stories of composers, scholars, patrons, performers, audiences, repertoires, venues, and specific works, this intriguing volume explores points of intersection between music and queerness in Europe and the United States in the years 1870 to 1950 - a period when dramatic changes in musical expression and in the expression of individual sexual identity played similar roles in washing away the certainties of the past. Pursuing the shadowy, obscured tracks of queerness, contributors unravel connections among dissident identities and concrete aspects of musical style, gestures, and personae.On one end of the spectrum are intense, private connections and tantalizing details of musical expression: romantic correspondence between Eugenie Schumann (a daughter of Clara and Robert) and the singer Marie Fillunger; John Ireland's confessional letters to a close friend of an illicit passion for young choristers; 'closet formations' in the music of composers such as Maurice Ravel, Edward Elgar, and Camille Saint-Sens.At the other extreme are public, often flamboyant intimations of deviance and their repercussions: the craze for male impersonators in American vaudeville between 1870 and 1930; the politics of appropriation implicit in showy transcriptions by pianists such as Liberace; the increasingly homophobic reception accorded Tchaikovsky's music in the early twentieth century. The authors also explore how traces of queerness can mark communities, such as groups of German men who fashioned homosexual identities by way of the cult of Wagner or women musicians who were assigned suspect or deviant status by virtue of being jazz instrumentalists. Throughout these discussions, music provides the accompaniment for confrontations between disparate conventions of social propriety and diverse forms of sexual identity. These provocative essays open the consideration of music and sexuality to an exciting new sense of inbetweenness, passage, and diversion.

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Tags: gay classics, musician: vladimir horowitz, queers in history
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