The world-renowned pianist Krystian Zimerman caused a sensation in Los Angeles on Sunday night when he announced mid-performance that the concert would be his last in the United States. His decision is in protest at the country’s aggressive military policy overseas, and comes in the wake of recent US plans to install a missile defence shield on Polish soil. ‘Get your hands off my country,’ the pianist is reported to have said in the Los Angeles Times.
Zimerman’s quiet but determined announcement inspired both cheers and angry shouts from the audience, as well as around 40 walk-outs. As he saw people leaving Zimerman was heard to say, ‘Yes – some people when they hear the word ‘military’ start marching.’ He continued the Disney Hall concert with a performance of Szymanowski’s Variations on a Polish Folk Theme.
It is not the first time Zimerman has voiced concerns about America. In 2006 he made a similar declaration that he would not perform in the US until Bush was out of office. And shortly after 9/11 Zimerman’s piano was confiscated and later destroyed by US customs officials due to its apparently suspicious-smelling glue. Since then he has taken to transporting his pianos in parts and personally reassembling them upon arrival.
Image: Harrison Parrott