This surname of HORVITZ is a Polish, Czech and East Ashkenazic Jewish topographic name for someone who came from HOROVICE in Bohemia, part of Czechoslovakia. It also meant one who lived on a hillside or in a mountainous district. The name was derived from the Polish word GORA, meaning mountain. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. The name has numerous variant spellings which include HORWITZ, HARUWITZ, GORTWITZ and UREVICH, to name but a few. A notable member of the name was Vladimir HOROWITZ (1904-89) the Russian pianist, born in Kiev. He studied at the conservatory there. He made his debut at Kharkov in 1921, was heard in Berlin in 1925, and made his US debut in 1928. He settled in the United States in 1940. His concert career was interrupted several times by illness, but he emerged as one of the most accomplished players of this century. The earliest Polish surnames were patronymic. The personal names from which they were derived were mainly Slavonic, but as the Middle Ages progressed, traditional Slavic given names, began to give way to saint's names, mainly of Latin origin. Surnames derived from Slavonic personal names are of early origin, and tend to be borne by aristocratic families. Some names were changed by immigrants whilst on the boat heading for America and Australia. These transformations were usually to names thought by the immigrants to be more respected in his native land than the one he bore. Many Poles added 'ski' to their names to attain a higher social status since such names were accorded more respect from people of Polish extraction. Thus a larger proportion of Polish names carried this termination in America and Australia than in Poland.
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