Krystian Zimerman reportedly halts recital, criticizes YouTube


There are classical musicians who play by the publicist’s handbook -- all smiles and innocuous sound bites -- and then there are musicians like Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman.

Zimerman shocked patrons at Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2009 when he abruptly announced from the stage that he would no longer perform in the U.S. because he objects to American military policy in his native Poland.

This week, Zimerman made waves again, though for a far less incendiary reason. The pianist reportedly halted a recital in Germany and left the stage after spotting someone in the audience recording his performance using a mobile device.


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He also took the opportunity to lament the detrimental effect that online video has had on the classical music world.

Zimerman was performing Monday at the Ruhr Piano Festival in Essen, Germany. According to reports in Britain’s Telegraph and from the music blog run by Norman Lebrecht, Zimerman broke off the performance when he spotted someone in a balcony of the hall filming him with a smartphone.

The pianist stopped playing and asked the individual to stop. He reportedly resumed playing only to leave the stage, his concentration broken.

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Zimerman returned and told the audience: “The destruction of music through YouTube is enormous.” He reportedly finished the recital but didn’t return for encores.

The piece Zimerman was playing when he was interrupted was Karol Szymanowksi’s Variations on a Polish Theme in B Minor.

Zimerman, 56, is widely regarded as one of the most important classical pianists working today.

Franz Ohnesorg, the director of the Ruhr festival, was quoted in the Telegraph saying that Zimerman “drew attention to a serious problem -- that these pieces are available, and free of charge [on the Internet] is an act of theft.”


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