Rubinstein vs. Horowitz


Year of publication: 1999

Word count: 74.210

Copyright belongs to the author


This book represents a combined history of two probably most popular romanticist pianists of the twentieth century. Aleksandar Gatalica’s book wants to bring home to the readers all contacts, disagreements, accusations and rivalry of two big boys as Rubinstein and Horowitz were. Why were they so snide against each other? That is not known, but the quiet warfare was waged for years. There were harsh words, but the relationship between the two was never scarce of comic situations either. David Dubal, editor of WNCN, a New York classical music station, talked to the Maestro once about the memoir book by Ignaz Moscheles. When Dubal asked him for the memoirs, Horowitz reminisced: “I’ve lost that book. The last time I saw it was when Arthur Rubinstein was reading it. He hasn’t returned it to me and I’m sure he has stolen it '.

That was not the only funny situation, because some questions are answerable, some other are not. Why did Rubinstein precisely after the concert on Champs Elysees feel a “profound artistic depression”, and did not feel depressed or crest-fallen after the performance of Moriz Rosenthal or Emil von Sauer, very popular musicians at the time, the brilliant type of pianists just like Horowitz was? Why was Rubinstein almost ignoring the music rendition by Ignaz Friedman, a great Chopinist between the two world wars, or the Swiss Edwin Fischer, whose playing sounds today as Rubinstein’s pre-war prototype? Why did Rubinstein say to his friends that he did not really care for America, and that happened precisely at the time Horowitz achieved his first fantastic results there? Why did Horowitz retire for the first time when Arthur Rubinstein, also spectacularly, arrived to America?  Why didn’t Arthur Rubinstein ever see the extraordinary pianists Robert Casadesus and Rudolf Serkin as his real competitors after the WWII in America, since they played much like him in many ways? Why didn’t Horowitz ever feel jeopardized by the appearance of the phenomenal and meticulous Claudius Arrau?

Finally, what is so intriguing that it is hard to believe in mere coincidence is worth mentioning. Why did Vladimir Horowitz have another “great comeback” to the stage in 1974, at the time Arthur Rubinstein counted his last seasons and had already announced his retirement? Why did Vladimir Horowitz return to concert tours exactly when Rubinstein was no longer on the stage there and only after 1976 did he travel across America as he used to do when young? And, at last, why did Vladimir Horowitz open the most glorious pages of his career after the year 1982, when Arthur Rubinstein died of prostate cancer? Why did Horowitz, as carefree as one could ever be, return to the places where he had not played for half a century, or even longer, after the “old man” died? Is that why only in 1986 he arrived in Russia, having a bearing of a piano king followed by a whole train in Moscow and in Leningrad: his wife, chef, security, press manager, personal piano-tuner and his famous “Steinway” number CD 314.503? Why did he find it particularly agreeable to be called “the last romanticist” and seem to enjoy the word “last” more than “romanticist” at the time?

The book Rubinstein vs. Horowitz is in many ways the first of the kind in the Serbian language, and not only in Serbian.


ES Rubinstein versus Horovitz