The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: How much is an autograph by pianist Vladimir Horowitz worth? | August 27, 2014

By Jacob Stockinger

I was going through some old papers and found something I thought that I had somehow lost or that had been stolen: An autographed card from Ukrainian-born superstar pianist Vladimir Horowitz from a concert he gave in Washington, D.C., in 1973.

Here it is:

Horowitz autograph copy

But I have no idea of the price it would bring on today’s market. Maybe a look on  Ebay could tell me.

Not that I want to sell it. Its sentimental value is priceless. A family member gave it to me. He collected it especially for me, and then sent it out of affection for me and for my love of playing the piano.

Still, I wonder: How much is it worth? True, it is not signed on a program or recording. But it does have a date and is an official autograph card with a printed version of his name on it. (Below is Vladimir Horowitz bowing to a packed house in Carnegie Hall.)

Vladimir Horowitz in Caregie Hall Don Hunstein,jpg

I have had it framed. and will keep it in a secure place, and I hope it will inspire me to play better.

I am also sorry I never collected an autograph from Artur Rubinstein (below) during the several times I heard him perform.

Arthur Rubinstein

In the meantime, I would welcome any educated guess or documented estimate of the value of this Horowitz autograph.

Finding it again, 41 years after it was signed and almost 25 years after the death of Horowitz (below, in his later years and towards the end of his career), is pretty lucky for me, don’t you think?

Vladimir Horowitz

And here is a popular YouTube video, with more than 4.4 million views, of one of my favorite Horowitz performances: Chopin‘s Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 23, during a live TV performance.

Do you have a favorite?

The Ear wants to hear.


  1. Thank you for the diversity of your posts. I found this blog very thought-full.
    Value of your signature? Priceless.

    Comment by Janet Murphy — August 27, 2014 @ 9:51 pm

  2. My favorite VH music is the Scriabin Etude in D# minor, the Mozart K330 Sonata, and the Rachmaninoff Prelude in G Major. Also, anything of his that shows his unique tone and flash up high and down low, such as the Moskowski Stars, or the Stars and Stripes solo. Even his Carmen Variations has all the necessary elements to show someone who did not know his music an excellent sample of his wares.
    As for the autograph, look at auction houses for insurance values. you will want this more than a selling price. The insurance value is always about 20% higher than the selling price, since replacing a damaged or destroyed rare time costs big-time. Put “autograph appraisal” or “autograph auction” or “Horowitz signature value” into a search engine, and look past the first couple of screens to find a more representative sampling. Christie’s and Sotheby’s are reasonable places to look as well.
    I am not sure that you all are aware, but VH played a hot-rod piano that was specially set up for his technique. It had a very light action, and required feather-light gradations to control, which, of course, he had. It also allowed him to play high, fast and loud with MUCH more ease than the typical Steinway would permit.

    Comment by 88melter — August 27, 2014 @ 11:38 am

  3. Well, Ear, there seem to be a number of Horowitz autographs available on the Internet. Since the man clear had cards printed just for that purpose, it’s not a surprise. I saw one on eBay that looked very much like the one you have with asking price of $550. I also found another one from a dealer that was an autographed program from the Washington Arts Society Golden Jubilee Series (1978) with an asking price of $999. I am sure the sentimental value for you is much greater so I would suggest keeping it framed and displaying it proudly.

    Comment by Michael Muckian — August 27, 2014 @ 8:16 am

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