The Pianist


The Pianist is a memoir by the Polish-Jewish pianist and composer Władysław Szpilman in which he describes his life in Warsaw in occupied Poland during World War II. After being forced with his family to live in the Warsaw Ghetto, Szpilman manages to avoid deportation to the Treblinka extermination camp, and from his hiding places around the city witnesses the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943 and the Warsaw Uprising (the rebellion by the Polish resistance) the following year. He survives in the ruined city with the help of friends and strangers, including Wilm Hosenfeld, a German army captain who admires his piano playing. The book was first published in Polish in 1946 as Śmierć Miasta. Pamiętniki Władysława Szpilmana 1939–1945 ("Death of a City: Memoirs of Władysław Szpilman 1939–1945"), edited by Jerzy Waldorff, a Polish music critic and friend of Szpilman's. In his introduction, Waldorff explained that he had written the story as told by Szpilman. A 1950 Polish film based on the book was heavily censored by the Communist government.A German translation by Karin Wolff in 1998, Das wunderbare Überleben: Warschauer Erinnerungen ("The Miraculous Survival: Warsaw Memories"), named Władysław Szpilman as the sole author, and in 1999 an English translation by Anthea Bell was published as The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939–45. Two years after Szpilman's death, Roman Polanski's The Pianist (2002) won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and the following year three Academy Awards (best adapted screenplay, best actor and best director), and BAFTA Awards for best film and best direction.
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original title: Śmierć miasta
language: Polish
date of publication: 1946
genre: diary, novel
main subject: The Holocaust
narrative location: Warsaw


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