Mieczysław Horszowski (June 23, 1892 – May 22, 1993) was a Polish-American pianist who is famous for having had the longest career in
the history of the performing arts.
Horszowski was born in Lwów in what was then Austria-Hungary (now part of the Ukraine). At an early age he was taught by his mother,
and became a pupil of Karol Mikuli, who was himself a pupil of Frédéric Chopin. At the age of seven, Horszowski studied under Theodor
Leschetizky in Vienna, who in turn had studied with Beethoven's pupil Carl Czerny.
In 1901, at the age of 9, he gave his first performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 in Warsaw and embarked on American and
European tours, widely acclaimed as a child prodigy. Four years later he performed for Gabriel Fauré and met Camille Saint-Saëns in
Nice. In 1911 Horszowski put aside his performing career so that he could devote himself to the study of literature, philosophy and art
history in Paris.
Horszowski, whose height barely reached five feet had rather small hands. One possible reason that he never attained superstar status,
like that of Horowitz or Rubenstein, was he avoidance of virtuoso repertoires. Horszowski's performances possessed a natural, easygoing
quality to them, balancing intellect and emotion. He was often praised for his tonal quality, a common trait among pupils of Leschetizky.
As a result of encouragement by Pablo Casals, he returned to the concert state, settling in Milan after the end of World War I. He remained
there until World War II, and fled to Italy to settle in the United States. After the war, he gave frequent recitals with artists like Casals,
Alexander Schneider, Joseph Szigeti and the Budapest Quartet. He made frequent appearances at the Prades Festival and the Marlboro
From 1940 Horszowski lived in New York City, then in Philadelphia, becoming an American citizen in 1948. Between 1943 and 1953, he
performed regularly with the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Toscanini, with whom he had a friendship.
During the 1954-1955 season, Horszowski gave performances of Beethoven's entire solo piano works, which was met with wide acclaim.
And in 1960 he repeated his stunning performance with Mozart's piano sonatas. Horszowski's repertoire was very diverse and extensive,
embracing the works of composers such as Honegger, d'Indy, Martinů, Stravinsky, Szymanowski and Villa-Lobos. In 1979, he recorded
several works of Lodovico Giustini, playing on a restored Cristofori pianoforte. The works were commissioned by Cristofori and are the first
known compositions written especially for the pianoforte.
In 1961 Horszowski performed at the White House with Casal for President Kennedy, and again in 1979 giving a solo performer for
He made numerous recordings under such labels as HMV, Columbia, RCA, Vanguard, Nonesuch, and others. He also taught at the Curtis
Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Among his pupils were Richard Goode, Anton Kuerti, Murray Perahia, Peter Serkin, Steven De Groote,
Kathryn Selby,Rita Reichman and Eugene Pridonoff.
In 1981, he married for the first time at the age of 89-year-old to Bice Costa, an Italian pianist. Bice later edited Horszowski's memoirs as
well as a volume of his mother's correspondence about Horszowski's early years. She also discovered some songs he had written on
French texts during 1913 to 1914 and recorded some songs composed by Horszowski on French texts ca. 1913-1914.
Though Horszowski's family was of Jewish origin.he became an early convert to Roman Catholicism, and led a very devout life. French
critic, André Tubeuf wrote that Horszowski as "both very Jewish and very Catholic, in both cases as only a Pole could have been."
Horszowski gave his final performance at the age of 99 in Philadelphia in October 1991. He died one month before his 101st birthday. He
had given his final lesson one week before he passed away.
Mieczyslaw Horszowski plays Bach Partita No. 2 in C minor
Mieczyslaw Horszowski plays Beethoven "Diabelli Variations" op. 120 48min