Wladyslaw Szpilman - Music from the Abyss

    To say that the music on this CD is Wladyslaw Szpilman's life-blood is
     more than just a poetic metaphor.  The Polish composer and pianist
     literally owes his miraculous survival of the Holocaust to music in
     general and the music contained on this CD in particular.
     Born in 1911, Wladyslaw Szpilman studied the piano at the Warsaw
     Conservatory under A. Michalowski and subsequently at the Academy of
     Arts (Akademie der Kuenste) in Berlin under Arthur Schnabel and Leonid
     Kreutzer.  He also studied piano and composition under Franz Schreker.
      In 1933, he returned to Warsaw where he quickly became a celebrated
     pianist and a composer of both classical and popular music.  From 1945
     to 1963 he held the position of Director of Music at Polish Radio.
     During these years he composed several symphonic works and about 1000
     songs, including some children's songs, as well as music for radio
     plays and film.  He also performed as a soloist and with the
     violinists Bronislav Gimpel, Roman Totenberg, Ida Haendel, Tadeusz
     Wronski and Henryk Szeryng.  In 1963, he and Gimpel founded the Warsaw
     Piano Quintet with which Szpilman performed world-wide until 1986.
     The German invasion of Warsaw on 23 September 1939 put an untimely but
     temporary end to Szpilman's musical career when a bomb, dropped on the
     studios of Polish Radio, interrupted his performance of Chopin's
     Nocturne in C Sharp minor.  Yet despite the inevitable changes to his
     life, brought about by the onset of war, Szpilman refused to give up
     his music.  His Concertino for piano and orchestra was composed while
     he was experiencing the hardships and deprivation of the Warsaw Ghetto
     in 1940.  Time after time, Szpilman managed to escape the
     deportations.  Even when he and his entire family were packed into
     cattle trucks to be sent off to Treblinka, the famous pianist was
     miraculously picked out and spared from the death camp.  He fled to
     the Aryan part of the city and spent two long and agonising years in
     hiding, always assisted by loyal Polish friends.  After the Warsaw
     Uprising he continued to lead the life of a recluse in the deserted
     ghost town.  Towards the end of the war, he was discovered by a German
     officer of the Wehrmacht, Wilm Hosenfeld, who saved his life after
     listening to the starved pianist play Chopin's C Sharp minor Nocturne
     on the out-of-tune piano of his hiding-place.
     When Szpilman resumed his activities as the Director of Music at
     Polish Radio in 1945, he did so by carrying on where he left off six
     years before: poignantly, he opened the transmission by playing, once
     again, Chopin's C Sharp minor Nocturne.
     This CD is thus a testimony to the power of music and the will to live
     of a man who survived the difficult years in hiding not least by
     recalling note by note, and bar by bar, every piece of music he had
     ever played.
     Wladyslaw Szpilman's wartime memoirs, in which he paints a gruesomely
     realistic picture of the Warsaw Ghetto and the mass murderous
     machinations of the German occupiers, have just been published in


1.  Ouverture for Symphonic Orchestra (*1968)
2.  Concertino for Piano and  Orchestra  (*1940)


3.  Rapsody on theThemes of Paganini
4.  Marguerite Op. 38 Nr. 3
5.  Prelude Op. 32 Nr. 12


6.  Polonaise A Flat Major Op. 53 Nr. 6
7.  Mazurka a-minor Op. 17 Nr. 4
8.  Nocturne cis-minor Op. posth. Nr. 20

Wladyslaw Szpilman - Piano