Władysław Szpilman (December 5, 1911 – July 6, 2000) was a Polish pianist, a classical composer, and a Jew who survived the Holocaust. He was also the subject of one of my favorite films, The Pianist.
Directed by Roman Polanski, the 2002 film is based on Szpilman’s autobiography and shows us his life in Warsaw under German occupation during World War II. Toward the end of the war, emaciated and hiding in an abandoned building, Szpilman is discovered by a German officer. Rather than arresting or executing him, the officer asks Szpilman to play something on the piano. Szpilman plays Chopin’s Nocturne in C# Minor. The officer shows Szpilman a better hiding place, and on multiple occasions brings him food. Szpilman survives the war. So does the German officer, though he would later die in a Soviet-run POW camp.
Władysław Szpilman died in 2000, at the age of 88, and is buried at the Powązki Military Cemetery in Warsaw, Poland.
THINGS MENTIONED OR RELATED:
- Władysław Szpilman
- Chopin’s Nocturne in C# Minor
- The Pianist (book)
- The Pianist (film)
- Roger Ebert’s review of The Pianist