Album: The Pianist: Music from the Motion Picture

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The Pianist: Music from the Motion Picture

Artist: Wojciech Kilar
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Label: SONY

Roman Polanski’s telling of famed Polish composer-pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman’s survival in the Nazi-controlled Warsaw ghetto can’t help but be infused with the director’s deepest passions: he himself escaped the Kraków ghetto as a boy of 7. The musician’s status as a musical hero to the oppressed Polish Jews of World War II was surpassed only by that of Chopin, the composer who was at the core of Szpilman’s repertoire. Thus this score revolves tightly around Chopin’s music, with modern Polish pianist Janusz Olejniczak paying passionate homage to both his musical…

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Roman Polanski’s telling of famed Polish composer-pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman’s survival in the Nazi-controlled Warsaw ghetto can’t help but be infused with the director’s deepest passions: he himself escaped the Kraków ghetto as a boy of 7. The musician’s status as a musical hero to the oppressed Polish Jews of World War II was surpassed only by that of Chopin, the composer who was at the core of Szpilman’s repertoire. Thus this score revolves tightly around Chopin’s music, with modern Polish pianist Janusz Olejniczak paying passionate homage to both his musical and national forebears, the haunting strains of the Nocturne in C-sharp Minor setting the film’s historical and dramatic tone. The underscore of previous Polanski collaborator Wojciech Kilar (The Ninth Gate, Death and the Maiden) is represented here by the soulful “Moving to the Ghetto,” a cue that helps anchor the soundtrack’s troubling time and place with understated grace. The collection concludes with a rare, remastered performance of Chopin’s Mazurka Op. 17, No.4 by Szpilman himself, recorded in Warsaw in 1948. —Jerry McCulley

Related Works

Book:The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945

The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945

Wladyslaw Szpilman

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.

Film:The Pianist (2002)

The Pianist

Roman Polanski

Winner of the prestigious Golden Palm award at the 2002 Cannes film festival, The Pianist is the film that Roman Polanski was born to direct. A childhood survivor of Nazi-occupied Poland, Polanski was uniquely suited to tell the story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew and concert pianist (played by Adrien Brody) who witnessed the Nazi invasion of Warsaw, miraculously eluded the Nazi death camps, and survived throughout World War II by hiding among the ruins of the Warsaw ghetto. Unlike any previous dramatization of the Nazi holocaust, The Pianist

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