d. 5th November 1989
There are three kinds of pianists: Jewish pianists, homosexual pianists, and bad pianists
A legendary pianist, whose artistry, preserved on recordings, remains a source of inspiration for generations of pianists, a delight for listeners, and a constant subject of academic inquiry. Although he married, among his own circle, he was well known to be homosexual.Later in life, he underwent psychiatric treatment in an unsuccessful attempt to cure his orientation.
Born in Kiev of Jewish parents, he started piano lessons at an early age. He entered the Moscow conservatoire in 1912, and gave his first public recital in 1920 - still in his teens. As his fame grew, he determined to make his career in the West, and in In December 1925, Horowitz crossed the border into the West, ostensibly to study with Artur Schnabel, but he had stuffed American dollars and British pound notes into his shoes, to finance his plan not to return. Successful debuts in Berlin, Hamburg, Paris, Rome, and London followed in 1926. To facilitate his burgeoning international career, he accepted honorary citizenship of Haiti.
He made his US debut, and also his first American recordings, in 1928. A long and glittering career, in international concert halls and recording studios, followed, as did numerous honours and awards. By 1945, he had become a citizen of the United States.
The story of his homosexuality bears remarkable similarities to that of Leonard Bernstein's. In his youth, he was widely assumed by his friends and associates that he was homosexual. In Berlin, for instance, he hired a young personal assistant, who accompanied him in all his travels, including vacation trips. It is often assumed that the relationship, which lasted six years, was not simply professional. Then, in 1933, he married the daughter of the conductor Arturo Toscanini, with whom he had a strong association.
It is believed that he continued to have some homosexual encounters during his marriage, but attempted to resist these temptations, receiving psychiatric treatment in the 1940's from Lawrence Kubie, a psychiatrist who specialized in "curing" homosexuals (Among his other patients were Moss Hart and, later, Tennessee Williams).
In 1949, he left his wife for a period of four years, but later returned to her. Although he flatly denied that he was gay, there was a widespread belief to the contrary. Arthur Rubinstein said of Horowitz that "Everyone knew and accepted him as a homosexual." Later, when he seemed to have become more relaxed about his sexuality, he was sometimes seen in New York's gay bars and disco's. His colleague David Dubal observed that late in his life, in his eighties, although at that time there was no evidence that he was sexually active, it was evident that he had a powerful interest and attraction to the male body. That interest,Dubal believed, had been sublimated into an intensely powerful undercurrent of eroticism in his playing.