Friday, May 1, 2009

Don't Count On It, Mr. Zimerman

From the UK Guardian:
Polish pianist stops show with anti-US tirade

'Get your hands off my country' ... Krystian Zimerman's outburst stunned the crowd.

Krystian Zimerman, the great Polish concert pianist, is usually a man of few words. He doesn't, as a rule, talk to the audience during performances. He says little or nothing in the press between his all-too-rare concert tours - not even about his habit of traveling everywhere with his own Steinway grand piano...

So he triggered more than the usual rumble of discomfort when he raised his voice in the closing stages of a recital at Los Angeles' Disney Hall on Sunday night and announced he would no longer perform in the United States in protest against Washington's military policies.

"Get your hands off my country," Zimerman told the stunned crowd in a denunciation of US plans to install a missile defence shield on Polish soil. Some people cheered, others yelled at him to shut up and keep playing. A few dozen walked out, some of them shouting obscenities.

"Yes," Zimerman responded with derision, "some people when they hear the word military start marching."

Zimerman's 'outburst' was obviously planned out - and therefore, not an 'outburst', really. Throw in the angry picture, and the 'tirade' descriptor, and the reader is left feeling that this guy is unhinged. It's the sort of newspaper writing that demonstrates a reflexive bias against critics of the government, or those in power. Of course, that's part of the job, and that's partly how one gets the job. Telling a potential boss in an interview that you aim to take down powerful people (i.e. them ?), usually only works in movies.

As one of the world's best musicians, Zimerman doesn't have to answer to a boss, and has the kind of freedom that most people don't. But, Poland is in a contested sphere of influence between the U.S., Eurozone and Russia. So it's unlikely that his wish will come true, in the long run.


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