Thursday, April 30, 2009

Zimerman Speaks his Mind

For those who haven't heard, reknowned Polish classical pianist Krystian Zimerman announced last week that he is refusing to play in the United States.  The message boads in and out of the classical music sphere have been alight with the pro and con of KZ's remarks. 

KZ is a sensitive artist. Notice I used the word sensitive, not eccentric or crazy. He is not an assembly line pianist like Ashkenazy. He is driven by perfection and not compromise. Part of that perfectionism is that he likes to take his own piano with him. (Horowitz - who would have agreed with KZ politically - did the same thing, but in an era when Steinway would foot part of the bill and take care of transportation.) As a former tech, I admire the fact that KZ has taken the time to learn about his instrument. Most pianists don't know beans about how pianos actually work.

As for the political statements: I happen to agree with most of what he said, although I'm baffled by the timing since the recent election was a repudiation of those policies. However, even if I had disagreed (for example, if he'd made some kind of rant against President Obama) I'd have either silently left the concert or stayed and not gone to hear him again. Entertainers, along with everyone else, have the right to say what they want, and we have the right to patronize them or not. That's one reason I don't watch Mel Gibson's films.

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