Historic CD 503 Horowitz Piano Concert Review – A Night to Remember

It was Earth Day, April 22nd and, as the Music Institute of Chicago’s moderator said, it was  “Horowitz Day”.  It was, in fact, the only opportunity to hear the renowned and historic CD 503 in concert during the piano’s visit to the Chicago area.  The concert hall was filled. The audience enthusiasm was palpable.  The historic nine-foot piano, which took a year to create, graced the stage.  We were told that the piano, though beautiful to look at, was even more pleasurable to listen to.  Before long the audience had reason to agree.


The concert, which was presented by Steinway & Sons in conjunction with the Music Institute, was remarkable.  It was one special evening that presented the historic Horowitz piano, the talented and skilled faculty of MIC (and one outstanding student) playing exquisite music where the acoustics were excellent and the concert was free.


Minus Vladimir Horowitz and Moscow, the evening was a reenactment of the famed 1986 Horowitz Recital in Moscow.  The selected pieces demonstrated clearly the way in which the piano players and the piano interacted with one another. Respected and acclaimed Music Institute piano faculty and Andrew Guo, a student in the Music Institute’s prestigious Academy for gifted pre-college musicians, recreated the 1986 Moscow recital.. Faculty performances included Scarlatti’s Sonata in E Major, L.23 (performed by Reiko Yamada); Mozart’s Sonata in C Major, K330 (Sung Hoon Mo); Rachmaninov’s Prelude in G-sharp Minor, Op. 32, No. 12 (Alexander Djordjevic); Rachmaninov’s Prelude in G Major, Op. 32, No. 5 and Scriabin’s Etude in C-sharp Minor, Op. 2, No. 1 (Matthew Hagle); Liszt’s Sonetto 104 del Petrarca (Ralph Neiweem); Chopin’s Mazurka in F Minor, Op. 7, No. 3 (Elaine Felder); and Schumann’s Traumerei (Grace Juang). Guo’s performance of Scriabin’s Etude in D-sharp Minor, Op. 8, No. 12 concluded the evening.


For me, the standouts of the evening included the beautiful hand movements that Grace Juang brought to the Robert Schumann piece, the exquisitely romantic Franz Liszt piece in the hands of Ralph Neiweem, which transported me to another realm, and the energetic and accomplished rendering of Alexander Scriabin’s Etude in D sharp minor, Op. 8, No.12 in he capable hands of Andrew Guo.  The entire program was simply memorable. When I left, I wondered how the pianist felt when they played this historic piano.



And now, here is the story of the piano. Early in 1934, as a wedding present, Steinway presented Vladimir and Wanda Horowitz with a Steinway Model D, Serial #279,503. In the early 1940s, this piano was replaced with #314,503—CD 503, for short. This is the piano Horowitz kept in his New York townhouse and used in many recitals and recordings in the 1970s and ’80s. Because Horowitz loved the sound and touch of this piano so much, it became his exclusive tour piano for the last four years of his life, including his triumphant return to Russia in 1986 after a more than 60-year absence.

This performance is one of 100 concerts taking place during the Music Institute’s 16-day Community Music Festival, showcasing some of the more than 1,600 students from 86 communities in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, all volunteering their time. For information, visit musicinst.org/cms-festival or follow the Music Institute on Twitter @MICcommunity.  




Photos: Erin Fusco
Director of Marketing & Communications
Music Institute of Chicago
1702 Sherman Avenue
Evanston, IL  60201



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