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The Pianist

'You can learn more about human nature from this brief account of the survival of one man throughout the war years in the devastated city of Warsaw than from several volumes of the average encyclopaedia' Independent on Sunday 'We are drawn in to share his surprise and then disbelief at the horrifying progress of events, all conveyed with an understated intimacy and dailiness that render them painfully close...riveting' Observer 'The images drawn are unusually sharp and clear...but its moral tone is even more striking: Szpilman refuses to make a hero or a demon out of anyone' Literary Review
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Joint promotion with major movie release


About the Author

Wladyslaw Szpilman was born in 1911. He studied the piano at the Warsaw Conservatory and at the Academy of Arts in Berlin. From 1945 to 1963 he was Director of Music at Polish Radio, and for many years he also pursued a career as a concert pianist and composer. He lived in Warsaw until his death in 2000.


Originally published in Poland in 1945 but then suppressed by the Communist authorities, this memoir of survival in the Warsaw Ghetto joins the ranks of Holocaust memoirs notable as much for their literary value as for their historical significance. Szpilman, a Jewish classical pianist, played the last live music broadcast from Warsaw before Polish Radio went off the air in September 1939 because of the German invasion. In a tone that is at once dispassionate and immediate, Szpilman relates the horrors of life inside the ghetto. But his book is distinguished by the dazzling clarity he brings to the banalities of ghetto life, especially the eerie normalcy of some social relations amid catastrophic upheaval. He shows how Jewish residents of the Polish capital adjusted to life under the occupation: "The armbands branding us as Jews did not bother us, because we were all wearing them, and after some time living in the ghetto I realized that I had become thoroughly used to them." Using a reporter's powers of description, Szpilman, who is still alive at the age of 88, records the chilling conversations that took place as Jews waited to be transported to their deaths. "We're not heroes!" he recalls his father saying. "We're perfectly ordinary people, which is why we prefer to risk hoping for that 10 per cent chance of living." In a twist that exemplifies how this book will make readers look again at a history they thought they knew, he details how a German captain saved his life. Employing language that has more in common with the understatement of Primo Levi than with the moral urgency of Elie Wiesel, Szpilman is a remarkably lucid observer and chronicler of how, while his family perished, he survived thanks to a combination of resourcefulness and chance. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

OSCARS - The Pianist has won three OSCARS (count 'em!) for BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY, BEST DIRECTOR, BEST LEADING ACTOR... and you can't miss the coverage in the national and regional newspapers, radio and TV...! BAFTAS- You'll remember The Pianist won the BAFTA for BEST FILM beating Gangs of New York, Chicago, The Hours and Lord of the Rings. It also won the BAFTA for BEST DIRECTOR.It has also just won BEST FILM at the inaugural LONDON JEWISH CULTURE CENTREAWARDS FOR CONTRIBUTIONS TO JEWISH CULTURE. It is also number 15 on the US Bestseller lists. Just such a shame that the author never lived to see his story being so widely acclaimed. Many of you will remember the author, Wladlyslaw Szpilman, who came over to promote the book in hardback and who sadly died before the film was realised. With such a brilliant Director and the amazing true story of how Wladyslaw survived because of his love of music, the film is attracting a huge amount of attention and the reissued paperback is also receiving good reviews. As THE MAIL ON SUNDAY says:"This edition of the book has been released to coincide with a new Hollywood film, but I strongly recommend reading it first." "One of the most human of stories" JEWISH CHRONICLE "Szpilman pays testament to the strange magic of music, without which he would have dies alongside his family." SUNDAY HERALD "a remarkable book... no-holds-barred... fascinating." SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

Szpilman's memoir of life in the Warsaw ghetto is remarkable not only for the heroism of its protagonists but for the author's lack of bitterness, even optimism, in recounting the events. Written and published in a short run in Poland soon after the war, this first translation maintains a freshness of experience lacking in many later, more ruminative Holocaust memoirs. (LJ 8/99) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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