Seattle police halt noisy "recital" by piano superstar Vladimir Horowitz on February 6, 1931.

  • By Peter Blecha
  • Posted 4/03/2009
  • Essay 8945
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In the earliest hours of Friday, February 6, 1931, the Seattle Police Department was alerted to a ritzy Capitol Hill neighborhood, where music emanating from the home of Myron Jacobson (429 Harvard Avenue N) had caused a disturbance. Upon arrival (soon after the 2 a.m. complaint was lodged), an officer discovered that Jacobson was hosting a private soiree by the Russian immigrant concert star Vladimir Horowitz (1903-1989), who had completed a formal concert at the University of Washington the evening before.

Old Masters at Play

As Jacobson -- himself a renowned pianist -- told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer about the incident involving the revered musician who is still considered one of the finest pianists of the twentieth century:

"After Mr. Horowitz, my compatriot and lifelong friend, had finished his recital in Meany Hall, we went to ... my private studio where, on two pianos, we played from the old masters for several hours. Eventually -- in fact I admit that it was late ... Mr. Horowitz agreed to play me some of his own compositions on the larger piano in the living room. His rendition was exquisite ... . But suddenly an abrupt knock on the door ended the music. I answered the summons and there in the doorway stood a policeman. He was tall as a tree."

Piano and Case Closed

The officer informed the men that "That music must stop. The doctor says it must."  Jacobson continued: "I demanded to know the name of this mysterious doctor, but the policeman looked at me blankly and the two of us were face to face with an impasse. Horowitz, however, realizing my own embarrassment at the affront he had just received, smilingly closed the piano and said, 'Come, my old friend; I guess it is better that we quit.'"

The P-I further reported that Jacobson spent much of that Friday surveying his doctor neighbors to try and determine "whose slumber may have been interrupted by golden music. All of them, however, denied any connection with the episode."

Sources: "Famed Pianist Ends Nocturne On Law's Chord: Vladimir Horowitz, Playing At Friend's Home, Stops When Officer Sounds Sour Note," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 7, 1931, p. 3.

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