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Published January 16th, 2013
Famous Horowitz Piano Coming to Lafayette
Budding virtuosos can tickle all 88 distinguished ivory keys
By Cathy Tyson
Justin Levitt Photo provided

It's not every day a piano goes on a road trip, but already having travelled from New York to Russia to Japan, classical pianist and composer Vladimir Horowitz's personal piano is making a stop this weekend in Lafayette. Players of all ages are invited to play on this fantastic Steinway Concert Grand Piano in the Community Hall of the Lafayette Library and Learning Center.
Born in Kiev in 1903, now the capital of Ukraine, Horowitz later became a naturalized American citizen and after a long, illustrious career he passed away in 1989. For a younger generation who may be unfamiliar with his celebrity, Time magazine described him as, "widely regarded as the greatest pianist of the 20th century - maybe of all time."
It's unclear if the abilities of Horowitz will rub off on the fingers of casual players, but it couldn't hurt. The legendary piano is available for the public to play on Jan. 19 from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Jan. 20 from noon to 3 p.m. A $5 donation to support the Library Foundation is requested. Because of its popularity, play time will be limited to 10 minutes for students up to age 12, and 20 minutes for those 13 and up.
Also on Jan. 20, from 4 to 5:30 p.m., pianists Justin Levitt and Susan Hammond will hold a lecture-recital with video clips of the master at work and performance of music by Schumann, Rachmaninoff and Scriabin. Residents may remember Levitt from his days at Acalanes or his recent concert at the library with David Glass back in October. Admission for the recital is $10 and includes a glass of wine or coffee. To make a reservation, call (925) 253-6513 x101 or go to reserve@LLLCF.org.
Levitt credits Bob Athayde at Stanley Middle School and Brad Wells, choir teacher at Acalanes, for their "support and encouragement, they really believed in me," and inspired him to pursue music as a profession. He recalls as a student in Lafayette he worked all summer and saved up $600 to buy an upright spinet piano from a woman in Rossmoor, "and never looked back." This self-taught musician and composer recently played at Carnegie Hall and won first place at the 2012 Music Teachers' Association of California for his original composition, "Sweet Contentment."
Impressed by the Horowitz piano, Levitt points out that this is the very same piano the prominent musician had in his home and that accompanied him to Russia for his stellar come-back performances in Moscow and Leningrad in 1986. For beginners to advanced players being able to play this piano and experience the music and rich warm tone is priceless. For those that can't make it this weekend, the Horowitz piano will be available for the public to play at Sherman Clay in Walnut Creek for approximately two weeks.


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