Polish pianist protests US policy on stage

Krystian Zimerman
Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman shocked the audience of LA Walt Disney Concert Hall on Sunday when he stopped mid-show saying that he would no longer perform in a country whose military wants to take over the world.

According to the report on the Los Angeles Times website, Krystian Zimerman was about to play the final piece of the evening – Polish composer Karol Szymanowski’s ‘Variations on a Polish Folk Theme’ – when he suddenly stopped playing and came out with a politicized speech accusing the US of attempting to press the rest of the world with their military policy.

The piano virtuoso made the remark near the end of his performance in LA, which was closing his latest US tour. He proclaimed that he is completely dissatisfied with the US military policy towards his native country and that he does not want to come back to the United States anymore.

“Get your hands off my country,” Mr. Zimerman said, cites the website, referring to the US plans to place an ABM shield in Poland.

After the statement several dozen concertgoers left the hall disappointed and disapproving of the artist’s actions.

“Yes, some people when they hear the word military start marching,” the pianist commented on some of the audience leaving the hall early. He then continued his performance.

He made a similar threat in 2006, stating he would not return until George W. Bush was out of office.

The Associated Press, however, says, referring to the pianist’s manager Mary Pat Buerkle, that his disenchantment with the country goes beyond that.

“I think that there are many contributing factors to that decision, and I don't think it's appropriate to say it's all political,” Buerkle claims.

In recent years Mr. Zimerman had to cancel his performance in the US as the security at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport destroyed his Steinway grand piano. The instrument became the victim of extra security measures, because the glue used to make the piano was similar to a substance used in some explosives.

Zimerman, 52, is a Polish classical pianist, widely regarded as one of the finest in the world and has been described by allmusic.com as “one of the most sensitive and controversial concert pianists to emerge in the latter half of the 20th century.”