In tribute to Wladyslaw ‘The Pianist’ Szpilman
PR dla Zagranicy
A series of events recalling the life and career of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish musician of Jewish origin whose war-time plight was made by Roman Polanski into the Oscar-winning film ‘The Pianist’, opens in Warsaw, Thursday.
The events precede the 100th anniversary of Szpilman’s birth on 5 December. Held under the motto ‘The Pianist of Warsaw’, it comprises screenings of The Pianist and of a documentary film about Szpilman.
Other supporting events include a lecture on his compositional achievements, reminiscences by his widow and Polish musicians, an exhibition on ‘Music in Nazi-occupied Poland’ and concerts of songs composed by Szpilman.
Szpilman’s long association with Polish Radio will also be recalled. At a ceremony on Sunday, one of Polish Radio studios will be named after Wladyslaw Szpilman.
After studying the piano and composition in Warsaw and Berlin, Szpilman worked at Polish Radio for four years until the outbreak of war. He miraculously avoided capture by the Nazis.
In the final months of the war, he found shelter in the ruins of Warsaw and survived thanks to the help from his Polish friends and a German Army officer. After the war, he served as director of Polish Radio’s music department for 18 years.
Szpilman then founded the Warsaw Piano Quintet, which toured around the world for more than two decades. His compositional output includes some 500 songs, many of which became hits, and several symphonic works which have remained in the concert repertoire until today.
Wladzslaw Szpilman published his war-time memoirs soon after the war ended under the title Death of a City, but the book was soon banned by the Stalinist authorities. It was re-published by Szpilman’s son, Andrzej, in 1998, in German and English, and has since been translated into over thirty two languages.
Wladyslaw Szpilman died in 2000 at the age of 88. (mk/jb)