Monday, April 27, 2009

Zimerman's angry adieu

Before playing the last selection in an April 26 recital at Disney Hall in Los Angeles, pianist Krystian Zimerman announced that this would be his last performance in the United States, Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times reports:

"In a quiet but angry voice that did not project well, he indicated that he could no longer play in a country whose military wants to control the whole world," Swed writes. " 'Get your hands off my country,' he said."

The Polish-born pianist, Swed notes, has had run-ins with U.S. border security, including an episode not long after the 9/11 attacks when federal agents confiscated and destroyed one of his pianos. (Apparently, ether, which he uses to clean and condition felts, alarms security checkers, Zimerman told me before a University of Richmond appearance in 2004.)

UPDATE 1: "Get your hands off my country" apparently was an oblique reference to U.S. plans to position a missile defense shield in Poland, Andrew Gumbel reports in The Guardian:

UPDATE 2: "Performers have every right to remind us of the political and social systems that connect us all, and to confront audiences with the difficult musical meanings that are latent in any concert programme," Tom Service writes in The Guardian: