Szpilman Year inaugurated
PR dla Zagranicy
Events marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of Wladyslaw Szpilman, whose tale was told in Roman Polanski's "The Pianist", have been inaugurated in Sosnowiec, southern Poland.
It was there that the famous Polish musician of Jewish origin was born on 5 December 1911. A commemorative plaque is placed on the house on 18 Targowa Street, where he was born and lived with his parents and two sisters.
A national contest for the best interpretation of Szpilman’s songs has been announced. Piotr Celej, its organiser, has said that the idea is to look for new arrangements and innovative interpretations of Szpilman’s hits so that to re-discover his compositional output.
The competition is open to all singers over 17 years of age. The finals will be held in Sosnowiec on 5 December.
Wladyslaw Szpilman studied the piano and composition in Warsaw and Berlin, and worked at Polish Radio for four years until the outbreak of war. He miraculously avoided capture by the Nazis.
In the final months of the war, he found shelter in the ruins of Warsaw and survived thanks to the help from his friends and a German Army officer.
After the war, he resumed his professional contacts with Polish Radio, serving as director of its music department for 18 years. He then founded the Warsaw Piano Quintet, which toured around the world for more than two decades. His compositional output includes some 500 songs, many of which became hits, and several symphonic works which have remained in the concert repertoire till today.
What made him famous, however, was an autobiographical book describing how he survived the Holocaust and its Oscar-winning film version The Pianist, made by Roman Polanski.
He died in 2000 at the age of 88. (mk/jb)