Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Polish pianist stands his ground.

Poland's Krystian Zimerman, acclaimed as one of the world's finest pianists, shocked his audience at Disney Hall in Los Angeles Sunday evening by stopping his recital and announcing that this would be his last performance in the U.S.

"Get your hands off my country," Zimerman, who doesn't allow photos to be taken of his performances, told the audience. He denounced American military policies overseas and particularly in Poland, accusing the U.S. of trying to control the world.


Others remained but shouted for him to shut up and play the piano, and still others cheered. Then Zimerman launched into Karol Szymanowski's Variations on a Polish Folk Theme with such intensity that the audience gave him multiple ovations.

The Los Angeles Times noted on Tuesday that U.S. military policy has recently been a hot-button issue in Poland. Poles have been upset that the CIA held suspected al-Qaeda militants in secret prisons in Poland, and many objected to the Bush administration's plans to use Poland as part of a European missile defence shield.


Zimerman's outburst on Sunday may have been clumsy, Service added in the Guardian's On Classical blog, but it was relevant to the music he was playing.

"From Paderewski, Poland's piano virtuoso prime minister … countless classical composers and performers have been just as vocal and committed in their political beliefs," he noted.

"It's probable Zimerman only made his speech because of the Polish music he was about to play. Playing Bach and Beethoven is one thing, but performing Szymanowski's virtuosic Polish Variations for the exotic East-European delectation of a Los Angeles audience must have stuck in Zimerman's craw. Which is why he exploded in his 'quiet but angry' way."

Here's young Zimerman playing Chopin's 3rd Ballad. Apparently I never quite understood what tickling the ivory meant...

Man; Youtube Fight!

Zimerman plays Schubert Impromptu Op. 90 No. 2


Dong-Min Lim Schubert Impromptus Op.90 No.2

vs... there are tons more.

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