The last live broadcast on Polish Radio, on September 23, 1939, was Chopin's Nocturne in C# Minor, played by a young pianist named Wladyslaw Szpilman, until his playing was interrupted by German shelling. It was the same piece and the same pianist, when broadcasting resumed six years later. The Pianist
is Szpilman's account of the years inbetween, of the death and cruelty inflicted on the Jews of Warsaw and on Warsaw itself, related with a dispassionate restraint borne of shock. Szpilman, now 88, has not looked at his description since he wrote it in 1946 (the same time as Primo Levi's If This Is A Man?
; it is too personally painful. The rest of us have no such excuse.
Szpilman's family were deported to Treblinka, where they were exterminated; he survived only because a music-loving policeman recognised him. This was only the first in a series of fatefully lucky escapes that littered his life as he hid among the rubble and corpses of the Warsaw Ghetto, growing thinner and hungrier, yet condemned to live. Ironically it was a German officer, Wilm Hosenfeld, who saved Szpilman's life by bringing food and an eiderdown to the derelict ruin where he discovered him. Hosenfeld died seven years later in a Stalingrad labour camp, but portions of his diary, reprinted here, tell of his outraged incomprehension of the madness and evil he witnessed, thereby establishing an effective counterpoint to ground the nightmarish vision of the pianist in a desperate reality. Szpilman originally published his account in Poland in 1946, but it was almost immediately withdrawn by Stalin's Polish minions as it unashamedly described collaborations by Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Poles and Jews with the Nazis. In 1997 it was published in Germany after Szpilman's son found it on his father's bookcase. This admirably robust translation by Anthea Bell is the first in the English language. There were 3,500,000 Jews in Poland before the Nazi occupation; after it there were 240,000. Wladyslaw Szpilman's extraordinary account of his own miraculous survival offers a voice across the years for the faceless millions who lost their lives. --David Vincent
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
OSCARS - The Pianist has won three OSCARS (count 'em!) for BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY, BEST DIRECTOR, BEST LEADING ACTOR... and you can't miss the coverage in the national and regional newspapers, radio and TV...! BAFTAS- You'll remember The Pianist won the BAFTA for BEST FILM beating Gangs of New York, Chicago, The Hours and Lord of the Rings. It also won the BAFTA for BEST DIRECTOR.It has also just won BEST FILM at the inaugural LONDON JEWISH CULTURE CENTREAWARDS FOR CONTRIBUTIONS TO JEWISH CULTURE. It is also number 15 on the US Bestseller lists. Just such a shame that the author never lived to see his story being so widely acclaimed. Many of you will remember the author, Wladlyslaw Szpilman, who came over to promote the book in hardback and who sadly died before the film was realised. With such a brilliant Director and the amazing true story of how Wladyslaw survived because of his love of music, the film is attracting a huge amount of attention and the reissued paperback is also receiving good reviews. As THE MAIL ON SUNDAY says:"This edition of the book has been released to coincide with a new Hollywood film, but I strongly recommend reading it first." "One of the most human of stories" JEWISH CHRONICLE "Szpilman pays testament to the strange magic of music, without which he would have dies alongside his family." SUNDAY HERALD "a remarkable book... no-holds-barred... fascinating." SUNDAY TELEGRAPH