Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Suspicious Pianos

A week ago I was feeling conflicted over defriending an old classmate because he insanely supports torture. Well, hell, this guy just outdid me like a diva:
Poland's Krystian Zimerman, widely regarded as one of the finest pianists in the world, created a furor Sunday night in his debut at Walt Disney Concert Hall when he announced this would be his last performance in America because of the nation's military policies overseas.

Before playing the final work on his recital, Karol Szymanowski’s "Variations on a Polish Folk Theme," Zimerman sat silently at the piano for a moment, almost began to play, but then turned to the audience. 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.
Zimerman has had problems in the United States in recent years. He travels with his own Steinway piano, which he has altered himself. But shortly after 9/11, the instrument was confiscated at JFK Airport when he landed in New York to give a recital at Carnegie Hall. Thinking the glue smelled funny, the TSA decided to take no chances and destroyed the instrument.
I think he's referring to the US missile defense agreement with Poland and of course, the US detention camps at Guantanamo Bay. I'm as angry about Guantanamo Bay as he is, but I think he just defriended our whole country which is a little unfair.

But regarding his rant, I've never been to a Zimerman recital, but I've been to a U2 concert so I know all about the brutal lectures from the god(s) on stage. I expect it. I wouldn't want anything less from a passionate and intense artist. And if this becomes a trend, and other performers follow suit, we'll soon find out just how alone we are in the world on these moral issues as we continue to debate the merits of torture rather than prosecute for it.

And hey, what are TSA agents doing sniffing for glue? And how do you tell if glue "smells funny"? I know the DEA finds drugs in many strange places, but in a Steinway owned by a famous musician? And was destroying the piano really the answer?

Are we still keeping that terrorist watch list? Oh, we are. I hope Zimerman didn't talk his way onto it.


jcb said...

I'm just glad he went out playing Szymanowski, who, my less-than-precise relatives tell me, may be my great-uncle. or great-great. Or something.

Kristen said...

jcb, I've traced my own family tree, and I wish I could have found a Szymanowski!