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03 Oct

His whole family was dead, his city was in ruins, and yet, against all possible odds, he remained alive.Both the book, and the man himself, are also devoid of any desire for vengeance.Most arresting is a 1960 reading of Schumann's Fantasy in C major, the middle movement, which reaches an utterly singular, harrowingly intense climax.Nobody can really say this reflects Szpilman's wartime hardships, but my intuition tells me, unmistakably, that only someone who has paid rent in the abyss could conceive such phrase readings.Then, effortlessly, he moves from the familiar to the horrific. I found out later - this isn't in the book - that he was looking for toothpaste, but no matter.When he saw me, he asked me what on earth was I doing there ... I couldn't say that I was Jewish, that I was hiding, that I had been in these ruins for months.You can hear it in before-and-after recordings, in which one conductor beefed up the militaristic brass, and another found a conduit for psychic pain in the music's dissonances. You could argue that such changes have most to do with how we hear. I made a point of listening to the Szpilman discs (one from the independent label BCI Eclipse and the other from the German branch of Sony Classical) before and after seeing the film.What I heard didn't change, but the film explained a few things.

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No, from the first notes of both Szpilman discs, you hear poetic, Old-World rubato and that warm blanket of piano tone that's missing from the film's soundtrack performances by Janusz Olejniczak.The film tells the story of Wladyslaw Szpilman , a Jewish pianist in Warsaw.It won three Oscars: best director; best actor, and best adapted screenplay.(Wednesday, March 26, 2003) Meanwhile, Roman Polanski's "The Pianist" received a huge rave in the Jerusalem Post, with William E.Polish pianism of that period is more about shade than light.But anyone can understand that artistic expression, even the supposedly stationary world of classical music, cannot exist in a demilitarized zone, standing apart from world events.