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Władysław Szpilman Władysław Szpilman was born in the Polish town of Sosnowiec on 5 December 1911, to a Jewish family. After early piano lessons with.

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Presentation on theme: "Władysław Szpilman Władysław Szpilman was born in the Polish town of Sosnowiec on 5 December 1911, to a Jewish family. After early piano lessons with."— Presentation transcript:


2 Władysław Szpilman Władysław Szpilman was born in the Polish town of Sosnowiec on 5 December 1911, to a Jewish family. After early piano lessons with his mother Esthera, he continued his piano studies in the early 1930s at the Warsaw Conservatory under A. Michalowski and at the Academy of Arts (Akademie der Künste) in Berlin under Artur Schnabel and Leonid Kreutzer. He also studied composition with Franz Schreker. A Pole of Jewish descent, he returned to Warsaw after Hitler’s seizure of power and soon won himself renown as a pianist and composer..

3 He then returned to Poland in 1933 embarking on a brilliant career as a soloist, while performing as a chamber music partner of such famous violinists as Henryk Szeryng, Roman Totenberg, Ida Händel, and Bronislaw Gimpel. By 1935 he was the house pianist of the Polish Radio. In this function he played a Chopin recital on the 23rd of September 1939 in the last broadcast by the radio station. Part of this recital was the Nocturne in C-sharp minor, the piece that he would later play for his rescuer Hosenfeld, and that would reopen the service of the Warsaw station in 1945.

4 He worked as a piannist in Polish Radio, until the German invasion of Poland reached Warsaw in autumn 1939, and Polskie Radio was forced off the air. The Nazi-led General Government established ghettos in many Polish cities, including Warsaw, and Szpilman was forced to move to the Warsaw Ghetto with his family. He continued to work as a pianist in restaurants in the ghetto. Szpilman remained in the Warsaw Ghetto until it was abolished after the deportation of most of its inhabitants. Szpilman was left as a labourer and helped smuggle weapons. He avoided capture and death by the Germans several times.

5 When the rest of his family was deported to Treblinka, an extermination camp in the east, Szpilman managed to flee from the transport loading site with the help of a friend who grabbed him from the crowd and shooed him away from the waiting train. None of his family members survived the war. As set out in his memoir, Szpilman found places to hide in Warsaw and survived with the help of his friends from Polish Radio and in part by a German captain, Wilm Hosenfeld, whose real name Szpilman discovered in the early 1950s, when Hosenfeld’s wife wrote him a letter. Despite the efforts of Szpilman and other Poles to rescue Hosenfeld, he died in Soviet captivity in 1952

6 After the war Szpilman played a significant role in the rebuilding of musical life in Poland, directing the music division of the Polish Radio until 1963. In 1961 he founded the first Polish popular music festival Music Knows no Borders in Sopot. During this period he composed several symphonic works and about 500 songs, still popular in Poland today, as well as music for radio plays and film.In the 1950s he wrote about 40 songs for children, for which he received an award from the Polish Composers Union in 1955. Szpilman also performed as a soloist and with violinists Bronislav Gimpel, Roman Totenberg, Ida Haendel and Henryk Szeryng. In 1963, Szpilman and Gimpel founded the Warsaw Piano Quintet, with which Szpilman performed as a concert pianist and chamber musician in Poland, as well as throughout Europe, Asia and America.

7 In 1945, shortly after the war’s end, Szpilman wrote a memoir about his survival in Warsaw. He published the book, edited by Polish writer Jerzy Waldorff, titled Śmierć Miasta (Death of a City), but it was suppressed by the Polish authorities, who did not like its perspective on the war. Few copies of the book were printed, and it remained sidelined for more than 50 years. The nationality of Wilm Hosenfeld was changed to Austrian. In 1998, Szpilman’s son Andrzej republished his father’s work, first in German as Das wunderbare Überleben (The miraculous survival) by the Ullstein Verlag, a major German publishing house, and then in English as The Pianist.

8 In March 1999 Władysław Szpilman visited London for Jewish Book Week, where he met English readers to mark the publication of his bestselling book in England. It was later published in more than 30 languages. The "Palme d’Or", three "Oscars" and various European film prizes were among the awards collected by "The Pianist", Roman Polanski’s film based upon Wladyslaw Szpilman’s memoirs, dealing with his "miraculous survival" (as he called it) in Warsaw during the German occupation and final destruction between 1938 and 1945. But there is more to Szpilman than being "The Pianist". He is increasingly being noticed as a composer, both of concert works and of music in a lighter vein.. Władysław Szpilman died on 6 July 2000 in Warsaw. before the film was completed

9 However, the real personality of Wladyslaw Szpilman was so much more than the charming, dazzlingly good- looking pianist of the Polish Radio in the thirties that the book and film portray him to be. It is time the artistic output of this Orpheus polonicus, whose work had a profound impact on Polish musical life for decades, and yet whose name remains absent from music dictionaries, was recognised. Credit must therefore be given to his extant compositional work, now being brought before the public for the first time in this Boosey & Hawkes Edition, and which conveys an idea of the versatility of his talent, a talent that had to remain in internal exile owing to political circumstances.


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