“Working with a Steinway is a most stimulating experience; it gives you the delight of discovering again and again new and beautiful tone colors.”
Mieczysław Horszowski (1892-1993) was a Polish-American pianist who had one of the longest careers in the history of the performing arts.
Horszowski was born in Ukraine and was initially taught by his mother. In 1901, he gave a performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 in Warsaw and soon after toured Europe and the Americas as a child prodigy. In 1905, the young Horszowski played for Gabriel Fauré and met Camille Saint-Saëns in Nice. In In 1911, Horszowski put his performing career on hold in order to devote himself to literature, philosophy and art history in Paris.
Horszowski, barely five feet tall, had small hands. Thus, he avoided much of the virtuoso repertoire. His performances were known for their natural, unforced quality, balancing intellect and emotion. He was frequently praised for his tonal quality, as was common of pupils of Leschetizky.
Having returned to the concert stage with the encouragement of Pablo Casals, he settled in Milan after the First World War, remaining there until he emigrated to the United States during World War II. Following the war, Horszowski frequently gave recitals with artists such as Casals, Alexander Schneider, Joseph Szigeti and the Budapest Quartet. He often appeared at the Prades Festival and the Marlboro Festival.
From 1940 Horszowski lived in the United States, first in New York City and later in Philadelphia. He became an American citizen in 1948. Horszowski performed with the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Toscanini, with whom he was friends. During the 1954-55 season, he gave a memorable cycle of Beethoven's entire solo piano works in New York. In 1960, he did the same for Mozart's piano sonatas. In 1979, the pianist recorded several works of Lodovico Giustini on a restored Cristofori pianoforte. These works had been commissioned by Cristofori and are the first known compositions written specifically for the pianoforte.
Horszowski twice performed at the White House: with Casals and Schneider in 1961 for President Kennedy and a solo performance in 1979 for President Carter.
Horszowski's final recordings were made in his mid to late nineties. He also taught at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his pupils included Robert Dennison, Julius Eastman, Richard Goode, Dina Koston, Anton Kuerti, Murray Perahia, Peter Serkin, Steven De Groote, Kathryn Selby, Cecile Licad, and Leslie Spotz.
In 1981 the 89-year-old Horszowski married Bice Costa, an Italian pianist. Bice later edited Horszowski's memoirs and a volume of his mother's correspondence about Horszowski's early years. Horszowski's final performance took place in Philadelphia in October 1991. He died there a month before his 101st birthday. He gave his final lesson a week before his death.