Uh oh, did you read this? Mark Swed blogs the Disney Hall recital of Krystian Zimerman, one of the world's greatest concert pianists:
Before playing the final work on his recital, Karol Szymanowski’s "Variations on a Polish Folk Theme," Zimerman sat silently at the piano for a moment, almost began to play, but then turned to the audience. In a quiet but angry voice that did not project well, he indicated that he could no longer play in a country whose military wants to control the whole world. “Get your hands off of my country,” he said. He also made reference to the U.S. military detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. About 30 or 40 people in the audience walked out, some shouting obscenities. “Yes,” he answered, “some people when they hear the word military start marching.”Now, my first impulse here is to delicately suggest that Mr. Zimerman might, perhaps, consider fucking himself, but then I realize that what he's probably referring to is the U.S.'s stated desire to establish military bases in Poland, and I wonder how Americans would react if the shoe were the other foot and we were suddenly being pressure to host Polish missiles on our soil. I'm guessing the dudes who jeered and walked out of that Disney Hall concert would have TOTALLY LOVED THAT. And then I read on, and maybe we can understand why Zimerman's animus against our government is so deeply personal when Mark Swed reminds us:
Zimerman has had problems in the United States in recent years. He travels with his own Steinway piano, which he has altered himself. But shortly after 9/11, the instrument was confiscated at JFK Airport when he landed in New York to give a recital at Carnegie Hall. Thinking the glue smelled funny, the TSA decided to take no chances and destroyed the instrument. Since then he has shipped his pianos in parts, which he reassembles by hand after he lands. He also drives the truck himself when he carries his instrument from city to city over land, as he did after playing a recital in Berkeley on Friday.Emphasis mine. Also, Swed notes in his final review,
Three years ago at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, he substituted Gershwin for Chopin because the Transportation Security Administration had held up his piano at the airport and he didn’t have time to practice to adjust it properly.So I think I'm starting to get where Zimerman is coming from, here. (Swed also notes that most in the audience cheered Zimerman's diatribe against the U.S.'s militarism and its un-American treatment of detainees, and that the applause, at the end of his recital, was "deafening.") So, yeah, our government does suck sometimes. A little police state-y. Our military really does want, for better or worse, to control the world; we really haven't treated our detainees humanely; though Zimerman didn't mention it, the TSA really is, didja notice, The Worst. But I hope he changes his mind. If not—well, here's some video of the young Zimerman to remind us what we're missing: Swed links via The Standing Room.