Two special concerts from the White House allowed audiences (and the sitting presidents) to witness a show-stopping arrangement of themes from Bizet’s Carmen that were a signature piece of a piano master…

It was Kiev-born piano virtuoso Vladimir Horowitz, who triumphantly returned to perform at the White House at the request of then President Jimmy Carter, who called the proud naturalized citizen a “National Treasure”. The East Room concert was aired as a PBS special, and it marked the 50th anniversary of Horowitz’s debut in America. When he had played at the White House for the first time, for President Herbert Hoover, the pianist ended his recital with his own pyrotechnic arrangement of themes from the opera Carmen, which he did again for President Carter.

The Horowitz version of the Carmen Variations remains popular to this day – Here’s Yuja Wang in a practice room, giving it a go…

 

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