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1965 Twenty-five Years Ago

May 2024
1min read

The piano virtuoso Vladimir Horowitz ended a twelve-year absence from the stage on May 9 with a concert at Carnegie Hall. The “electric lightning pianist” had retired from public performance in 1953 at the height of his popularity. “I hope I am still a virtuoso,” Horowitz told the press when he announced the concert. “It’s nice to be a virtuoso.”

Though Horowitz missed several notes in his first piece before regaining his composure, his powers were clearly undiminished. “I was a little nervous, you know,” he said after the concert. “But if the record is released we must keep those notes .... Let people hear me as I really was.” The drama of a virtuoso’s return overshadowed all else. The album of the concert, with the sour notes included, won three Grammy awards in 1966.

On June 6 the United States Supreme Court struck down an eighty-six-year-old Connecticut law forbidding the use of contraceptives. Justice Arthur J. Goldberg’s concurring opinion in Griswold v. Connecticut declared that “the right of privacy in the marital relation is fundamental and basic—a personal right ‘retained by the people.’ . . .” The dissenting justices, Hugo L. Black and Potter Stewart, held that the law violated no specific clause in the Constitution but that it was “uncommonly silly.” The ruling said that the guarantees in the Bill of Rights “have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance.” Griswold v. Connecticut would be an essential precedent when the Court ruled eight years later in Roe v. Wade that the penumbra covering the right of privacy included a woman’s right to have an abortion.

—Arthur Nielsen

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