Revolution #167, June 7, 2009

Cheers & Jeers

The Courage of Krystian Zimerman

We received the following from a reader:

Krystian Zimerman, who music critics have proclaimed one of the finest pianists in the world, created a major furor on April 26 at the Disney Hall in Los Angeles.  As described by the LA Times music critic Mark Swed:

"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.

"Others remained but booed or yelled for him to shut up and play the piano. But many more cheered." ("Disney Hall Piano Concert Gets Political" LA Times, April 27, 2009)

What we should especially uphold about Zimerman's statement is that it comes in the time of Obama when many critics of the Bush Administration have chosen to keep their mouths shut even as Obama continues with many of the same imperialist policies as Bush.  Zimerman did not, causing the LA Times to write in an editorial: "For those who hoped that America's standing in the world would immediately rebound when the Bush administration rode into the sunset, Sunday night's furor at Disney Hall must have been a disappointment."  A disappointment only for those who live with the delusion that the world should love being dominated by the U.S.  The rest of us cheer Krystian Zimerman's courage to use his stature as a great pianist and his stage to raise his voice against the U.S. empire.

A Revolution reader

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