Cover image for The pianist : the extraordinary true story of one man's survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945
Title:
The pianist : the extraordinary true story of one man's survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945
Author:
Szpilman, Władysław.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Śmierć miasta. English
Edition:
First Picador USA edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Picador USA, 1999.
Physical Description:
222 pages ; 22 cm
Language:
English
Personal Subject:
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780312244156

9780312263768
Format :
Book

Available:*

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Status
Central Library DS135.P63 S94713 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Being fixed/mended
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Clarence Library DS135.P63 S94713 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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Clearfield Library DS135.P63 S94713 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Grand Island Library DS135.P63 S94713 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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Kenmore Library DS135.P63 S94713 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Lancaster Library DS135.P63 S94713 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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Orchard Park Library DS135.P63 S94713 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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City of Tonawanda Library DS135.P63 S94713 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Williamsville Library DS135.P63 S94713 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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Central Library DS135.P63 S94713 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Central Library DS135.P63 S94713 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

Named one of the Best Books of 1999 by the Los Angeles Times , The Pianist is now a major motion picture directed by Roman Polanski and starring Adrien Brody ( Son of Sam ). The Pianist won the Cannes Film Festival's most prestigious prize--the Palme d'Or.

On September 23, 1939, Wladyslaw Szpilman played Chopin's Nocturne in C-sharp minor live on the radio as shells exploded outside--so loudly that he couldn't hear his piano. It was the last live music broadcast from Warsaw: That day, a German bomb hit the station, and Polish Radio went off the air.

Though he lost his entire family, Szpilman survived in hiding. In the end, his life was saved by a German officer who heard him play the same Chopin Nocturne on a piano found among the rubble. Written immediately after the war and suppressed for decades, The Pianist is a stunning testament to human endurance and the redemptive power of fellow feeling.


Author Notes

Wladyslaw Szpilman was born in 1911. He studied the piano at the Warsaw Conservatory and at the Academy of Arts in Berlin. From 1945 to 1963, he was Director of Music at Polish Radio, and he also pursued a career as a concert pianist and composer for many years. He lives in Warsaw


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Originally published in Poland in 1945 but then suppressed by the Communist authorities, this memoir of survival in the Warsaw Ghetto joins the ranks of Holocaust memoirs notable as much for their literary value as for their historical significance. Szpilman, a Jewish classical pianist, played the last live music broadcast from Warsaw before Polish Radio went off the air in September 1939 because of the German invasion. In a tone that is at once dispassionate and immediate, Szpilman relates the horrors of life inside the ghetto. But his book is distinguished by the dazzling clarity he brings to the banalities of ghetto life, especially the eerie normalcy of some social relations amid catastrophic upheaval. He shows how Jewish residents of the Polish capital adjusted to life under the occupation: "The armbands branding us as Jews did not bother us, because we were all wearing them, and after some time living in the ghetto I realized that I had become thoroughly used to them." Using a reporter's powers of description, Szpilman, who is still alive at the age of 88, records the chilling conversations that took place as Jews waited to be transported to their deaths. "We're not heroes!" he recalls his father saying. "We're perfectly ordinary people, which is why we prefer to risk hoping for that 10 per cent chance of living." In a twist that exemplifies how this book will make readers look again at a history they thought they knew, he details how a German captain saved his life. Employing language that has more in common with the understatement of Primo Levi than with the moral urgency of Elie Wiesel, Szpilman is a remarkably lucid observer and chronicler of how, while his family perished, he survived thanks to a combination of resourcefulness and chance. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Szpilman's memoir of life in the Warsaw ghetto is remarkable not only for the heroism of its protagonists but for the author's lack of bitterness, even optimism, in recounting the events. Written and published in a short run in Poland soon after the war, this first translation maintains a freshness of experience lacking in many later, more ruminative Holocaust memoirs. (LJ 8/99) (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

Szpilman reveals the tragedy of Jewish life in Warsaw under the German occupation from 1939 to 1946. This autobiographical work was first published in postwar Poland in 1946 but was then quickly removed from circulation by Polish authorities. An accomplished pianist before the war, Szpilman played for Polish Radio during the siege of Warsaw and later within the Jewish ghetto to provide food for his parents and siblings. With the systematic liquidation of Jewish life in Warsaw and separation from his family Szpilman's life took a series of surprising twists. As readers view life in the ghetto through the eyes of a survivor, they learn of his escape from the ghetto before the Jewish uprising and understand that his ultimate survival consistently depended on a timely combination of luck and sympathetic acquaintances--including a German army officer. Included with Szpilman's memoirs are excerpts from Captain Wilm Hosenfeld's diaries and Wolf Biermann's own brief commentary. Hosenfeld's equating of National Socialism with Stalinist Communism and Biermann's emphasis on Szpilman's willingness to break with his past detracts from the overall quality of this work. Nevertheless, the book is well written and will retain the reader's attention to the end. General readers. D. A. Meier; Dickinson State University


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