Vladimir Horowitz’s Original Compositions

Well now I’m bummed. It’s been twenty years since Horowitz kicked the bucket. Before he died, I was told by a rabid Horowitz fan that all of his original compositions would be released posthumously. Well, what with the invention of the Internets, this morning I thought I’d find out what the hold up was, because I haven’t heard a dang thing about those pieces since.

All surviving original compositions by Horowitz we have stem from his student years in Russia. Horowitz is said to have composed copiously between ca 1911 and 1919, but very little seems to have survived for posterity. Horowitz kept some of the manuscripts to his early compositions in his private collection his entire life, but he was not proud of them and when he was asked in an interview towards the end of his life whether he would like to have them published he quickly replied “No. [long pause] They are modest”. None of them were ever published in Russia either as far as I know, and the indication of opus numbers for instance on the manuscripts is probably Horowitz’s own.
It should also be mentioned that the list below is not complete – Horowitz composed many more piano works, a violin sonata, several songs, etc – but these below are currently all manuscripts Dennis and me know have survived.

Danse Excentrique (a.k.a Moment Exotique)
This is a colourful little morceau Horowitz must have composed somewhere in the early or mid 1920s before leaving Russia. He made a piano roll of it for Welte & Sons almost the first thing he did when he came to Europe, and he also recorded it for RCA a couple of years later, in New York 1930. The work differs only very slightly between the roll from 1926 and the recording dating from four years later, but the manuscript – if there ever was any – is lost as far as we know.
There are some disputes whether this work is actually a transcription, or if Horowitz perhaps composed it together with a friend. One of the original RCA Victor releases was labeled as “Demeny/Horowitz: Danse Excentrique”. Who this Demeny fellow was or how his name came in to the picture nobody seems to have been able to figure out however, and both the other RCA release and the piano roll lists only Horowitz as composer. Demeny could of course have been a pseudonym used by Horowitz, just as Hofmann used to call himself Dvorsky, and the work is also rather “Horowitzian” in style, so I believe it would be motivated enough to call it an original work. Until someone can prove the opposite, at least.

Etude-Fantaisie in E-flat major, Op.4 (Les Vagues)

Une Conte, Op.14
Fragment Doloreux, Op.14
Prelude in F major, Op.9 (Presto)
Tableau Musical

Not much is known about these…. They were most likely composed in the years before Horowitz’s graduation from the conservatory in 1920, and they were kept in Horowitz’s private collection until Wanda gave them away to a friend shortly after Horowitz’s death. This is the only reason I know about their existence at all really.

Waltz in F minor

Ha! So that’s it? Well, not quite. I guess they lump this miscellany as part of the guy’s opera.

– Variations & Paraphrases
– Extensive Reworkings
– Works Edited by Horowitz
– Cadenzas & Codas
– Transcriptions
– Simple Arrangements

So there’s my answer: pathetic dregs. Now I have nothing to play but honky-tonk.