Here are some enlightening comments posted to Mark Swed’s reports (1, 2) on the concert. Every one of them an example of the stupid, smug, complacent bullshit that poisons classical music, every one an urgent reason for Zimermans everywhere to raise their voices a little higher still. They include a range of nuanced opinion, including the simply insulting:
Go Zimerman, and take the Dixie Chicks with you! In June 2008 Zimerman said he would no longer perform in the USA, due to the Iraq War. Hopefully Comrade Zimerman will keep his promise this time.
What a jerk. Hates the USA, but is still here to take our money. Let’s be sure to leave him stay in his country. Please, let’s not invite him back.
Mr Zimerman: you should play only, not speak. If you want to promote Poland play Chopin a.o. and shut up. Transfer your paycheck to the ‘poor’ in Poland. And stay out the Western Democracies for ever. You’re one the anti-zionists and anti-semitic Poles who are still around. Nothing have changed since 1940! You are not welcome in Amsterdam either.
Go away little boy. Go back to Poland, land of the apparently true jokes. Then take the time you have by NOT coming here anymore and see if you can find a country where we took over. Maybe don’twhine to US when Russia cuts off your gas in the middle of winter, or when Iran lobs missled over your irrelivant little country. I’d rather keep our tax dollars and military here rather than subsidizing your welfare state. If you’re so upset with this country, donate all those nasty Dollars to charity. What a dope.
There are known issues with the liberal mind, with its misfiring neurons and far-too-gapped synapses, that make it predictable that one would unwisely wish to intertwine politics with music. The stage should not be made into a “bully pulpit” in a similar fashion as the current dictatorship-on-the-rise has fashioned the government-media-complex.
It is curious, however, that Mr. Zimmerman focuses on Poland, which had a far more serious axe to grind, historically, with both Germany and the former USSR.
Ahhh … now I have it figured out. He was confused, and thought he was playing in the future United Soviet States of Amerika.
And the madder:
The concert hall is unquestionably a temple of a Muse and indisputably not a podium for the expression of one’s political wrath. Your political statement delivered in the midst of your Sunday recital at the Disney Concert Hall has a value reciprocal to that of your intentions. You have offended admirers of your art, lovers of music, and Euterpe herself. Those who went to your recital did not know they would be witnessing an anti-American spectacle because they opted for an evening with Euterpe’s protégé and his heavenly piano playing rather than for a low level political rally. Your “thank you” words to those who support democracy were utterly misdirected – the audience was there for an entirely different reason; according to my newest information, there’s an infinitude more of democracy supporters outside the walls of that music hall than there were in. If you want to reach them, please announce that you would be coming with a speech on America’s wrongdoing and step up rather to the agora. Then, charge tens and hundreds of dollars for the privilege of listening to your oratory skills, and just before the climax of your verbal delivery, play quietly and out of tune some mediocre pastiche of Chopin’s Revolutionary Etude. Please do – the throng will be delighted! Now, you proclaimed this would be your last appearance in the United States, but I guess you have said that before, haven’t you? Aside from that, whom do you want to punish? Is it those thousands who never engage in politics but spend their last savings to listen to the great Zimerman play? That reminds me of one other instance of a refusal to play because of the political stand. Ignacy Paderewski vowed never to play at the Royal Prussian Court and he kept his word, but he happily performed for the people of Prussia. Well, that was though at the time when artists nobly refrained from pursuing their agendas at the events that had nothing to do with their art. I guess the clue is clear. And one more clue: Canossa is not that far from where you live, so just take the walk…
And this one (one of many, many like it) is so completely topsy-turvy it makes me shake with rage:
If it wasn’t for our military, Mr. Zimerman, your country would still be under the iron fist of the Soviet Union.
I’m not sure where to take all this, the issues vomited to the surface are too wide ranging. There’s something about music and politics, a lot about Poland – now and historically – a lot about US imperial policy in Europe – now and historically – and at the end a little piece of Polish music given an apparently extraordinary performance:
All along, Szymanowski’s Variations [on a Polish Folk Theme] had seemed an unusually lightweight end to a program that contained far-reaching Bach, Beethoven and (originally) Brahms. An early work by the only internationally famous Polish composer of the early 20th century, the pleasingly Chopinesque Variations were written in 1904 when the composer was 22 and demonstrate none of the erotic mysticism of his mid-career compositions or the folk-inspired nationalism that made him known as the Polish Bartók.
Yet to hear Zimerman play anything in Disney was amazing. His Bach was richly nuanced and beautiful although pushed in the final Capriccio. The trills in his Beethoven had a bell-like shimmer that sounded like a newly discovered acoustic phenomenon.
But in the Szymanowski, Zimerman’s meticulous tone, so luminous in the Introduction and theme, ultimately took second place to idealistic patriotic zeal. It’s a good thing that he can look after his own pianos, because this one will probably want some doctoring after the treatment he gave it. There was no encore. Pianist, audience and piano were all spent. The cheers were deafening.