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Hello all,
I have been listening to a lot of late Horowitz.
I was wondering how you would describe the sound of his famous Steimway in the 80s.
Of course his sound and color world were his own. But that piano has such a unique sound all its own
But that really is such a unique sounding instrument. That bell like
..almost over bright treble, warm midrange, and thunderous super resonant bass.


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Horowitz would sound like Horowitz on any well functioning piano.

Horowitz would be much more comfortable playing on a piano he knows well.


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Something to keep in mind.

Horowitz had very specific desires when it came to his piano and his piano was set up to be very Un-Steinwayesque. (Did I invent a new word?)

There has been opportunities to play it for many years now and it is definitely very different today than it was the first time it toured. Unfortunately I was not able to look over the piano technically and salespeople there were just interested in hyping the fact that this was Horowitz's piano.

Is anyone here had a similar experience? I am curious to know what technical work may have been performed on the piano since Horowitz used it.

Ed McMorrow, you were a Steinway tech. Have you spent time with this piano at any time? Can you share anything?


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Yes, I can tell you I played it the first year it toured.
It was a really pure Horowitz. The touch ..the sound. Completely magnificent.
Then about 17 years later I played it again. No resemblance to the piano that I had played before. I thought it was ruined. Pretty much sounded and felt like a mediocre D that needed a ton of work.

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Katie Hafner wrote a brilliant book chronicling in great detail Glenn Gould's relationship with Steinway and one Steinway D in particular (CD318), A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould's Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano. Horowitz's Steinway makes a cameo appearance in the book, because Horowitz, too, wanted a unique sound and responsiveness from his instrument, and because at one point Gould had to give up CD318 and was looking for a replacement. Horowitz's Steinway was under lock and key at the time, and anyway Gould and Horowitz were fierce rivals (so there was no love lost between them). But it is speculated that, had circumstances been different, Gould might have enjoyed playing Horowitz's Steinway. We might say something about the exacting demands of pianists of genius, but it probably comes down to (as Ed remarks) what each feels comfortable with. Also, the effort to maintain a piano in the condition favored by one artist is exhaustive and ongoing, and as Horowitz67 and Rich have mentioned, when the artist dies, there is no longer the incentive to keep the piano to his standards and preferences.


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Originally Posted by Horowitz67
Yes, I can tell you I played it the first year it toured.
It was a really pure Horowitz. The touch ..the sound. Completely magnificent.
Then about 17 years later I played it again. No resemblance to the piano that I had played before. I thought it was ruined. Pretty much sounded and felt like a mediocre D that needed a ton of work.


I've heard this as well, that the piano was rebuilt and it wasn't done or set up with the parameters of Horowitz's preferences (or old piano) in mind.


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Horowitz67, how would you describe it to a technician as if you were trying to recreate how he had customized it.

agraffe, I had not idea that Gould and Horowitz were rivals. I see them as distinct pianists occupying distinct niches, both geniuses in their own ways. I don't know, almost like comparing a brilliant sushi chef to a brilliant steak chef . . .

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Originally Posted by Piano90X
Horowitz67, how would you describe it to a technician as if you were trying to recreate how he had customized it.

agraffe, I had not idea that Gould and Horowitz were rivals. I see them as distinct pianists occupying distinct niches, both geniuses in their own ways. I don't know, almost like comparing a brilliant sushi chef to a brilliant steak chef . . .




Terrifically said piano90x

It was a unique sounding piano. I don't think there was another like it.
It was smooth as butter. Could play p,pp,ppp,pppp...and they were all different. The treble seemed very bright to me. A good bright. Bell like. Crystal. The midrange was so warm and lyrical . And the bass had this almost built in thunder. ( not taking anything away from Horowitz's playing ..which his left hand could produce an incomparable thunder like sound)..

As I said. When I first tried it, I thought this was the most magnifiecent piano I had ever touched. I thought...My goodness, I wonder what Franz Moher did to create something like this. Lol.
When I tried it 17 years later. It was just a mediocre, beat up Steinway D, that you wouldn't think twice about .

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Originally Posted by Horowitz67
Yes, I can tell you I played it the first year it toured.
It was a really pure Horowitz. The touch ..the sound. Completely magnificent.
Then about 17 years later I played it again. No resemblance to the piano that I had played before. I thought it was ruined. Pretty much sounded and felt like a mediocre D that needed a ton of work.


Exactly my experience as well. I first played his piano back in the early 90s, when it was touring with his tech. It was magnificent! I went back and played it every day it was in town. I next (and last) played it in 2006 or so - totally different piano, one I didn't much care for.


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The Horowitz Steinway in his recordings from the 40s and 50s is much better than the later piano and possibly the ideal for Steinway sound.


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Originally Posted by Cassia
Originally Posted by Horowitz67
Yes, I can tell you I played it the first year it toured.
It was a really pure Horowitz. The touch ..the sound. Completely magnificent.
Then about 17 years later I played it again. No resemblance to the piano that I had played before. I thought it was ruined. Pretty much sounded and felt like a mediocre D that needed a ton of work.


Exactly my experience as well. I first played his piano back in the early 90s, when it was touring with his tech. It was magnificent! I went back and played it every day it was in town. I next (and last) played it in 2006 or so - totally different piano, one I didn't much care for.
What I think I've read is more or less the opposite of the above, i.e. that the original Horowitz Steinway had to be voiced or rebuilt because it was so harsh sounding.

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Originally Posted by Horowitz67

When I tried it 17 years later. It was just a mediocre, beat up Steinway D, that you wouldn't think twice about .


Isn't that pretty much the life of all concert grands? They spend their first few years in major concert and recording venues, but by the time they're 20+ years old, they've been replaced by new ones, and moved down to schools, churches, private homes, etc. Come to think of it, I'm a lot more mediocre and beat up than I was 17 years ago.... ;-)



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Interesting observations. I didn't play the piano in the 90's, but I had the opportunity in the summer of 2011 when it passed through the Kansas City area. Franz Mohr accompanied the piano and I had the good fortune of playing the piano after he had prepped it. The touch was lighter than I was accustomed to as far as other D's.

I also had the opportunity to hear a concert that evening by a local artist who was very good. But it seemed pretty clear to me that what I heard on records/cd's was the magic of Horowitz, not so much the piano itself.

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Originally Posted by JohnSprung
Originally Posted by Horowitz67

When I tried it 17 years later. It was just a mediocre, beat up Steinway D, that you wouldn't think twice about .


Isn't that pretty much the life of all concert grands? They spend their first few years in major concert and recording venues, but by the time they're 20+ years old, they've been replaced by new ones, and moved down to schools, churches, private homes, etc. Come to think of it, I'm a lot more mediocre and beat up than I was 17 years ago.... ;-)



Very true!

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I modified the regulation on my piano, so it can respond the way I like - which happens to be similar in certain ways to what Horowitz liked as well. Amongst other things : reduced hammer mass, dampers adjusted late, springs less tense, reduced blow distance, less key dip, etc.

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Greetings,
I was allowed to see his last piano at the factory. My former teacher (B. Garlick) was there and he allowed me to examine the piano while it was back at the loading dock. On orders, the regulation that Franz Mohr had done for Horowitz had been reset to factory standards, except for the fifth octave, which Bill had not "gotten to" yet. Very light, very bright, and most adjustments were set for ease of play. I thought it was way to glassy to produce a depth of tone.
When the piano was sent around after its "restoration", it was nothing at all like Horowitz had had it. It was placed at Vanderbilit early on in its tour, and I had some time to examine the restoration. Original board, and it had very little bearing in the middle three octaves, but had a lot of sustain. New hammers, etc, had made a unique artifact into a standard piano's response.
Regards,

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Originally Posted by Ed Foote
Greetings,
I was allowed to see his last piano at the factory. My former teacher (B. Garlick) was there and he allowed me to examine the piano while it was back at the loading dock.


Bill Garlick was so cool. I could call him out of the blue and he would chat with me for an hour.... and I am not exaggerating!


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what was the reason for the piano being re-set with standard regulation? Surely part of the lure of playing the piano was to experience something of what Horowitz might have experienced when he played it?


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The precise state of Horowitz's piano would have varied greatly over the years even when Horowitz was there to guide the technician. Suffice it say that with out Horowitz there to "drive" the situation, the piano will revert to "standard".


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Whatever Franz Mohr did to Horowitz's Steinway D, what came out of the instrument during the concert was 90% Horowitz. You can hear Horowitz's unmistakable sound in his 1932 recording of the Liszt Sonata on the recording he did for His Master's Voice, long before Franz Mohr came on the scene. The controlled frenzy in dramatic passages, the idiosyncratic phrasing, the enormous dynamic range that ranged from thunderous explosions to gossamer lightness - this was built into his hands and body and mind, not into the instrument.


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