Polish classical pianist and classical composer Władysław Szpilman plays Frédéric Chopin’s Nocturne No. 20 in C♯ minor. Władysław Szpilman (5 December 1911 – 6 July 2000) is widely known as the protagonist of the 2002 Roman Polanski film The Pianist.

Władysław Szpilman, “The Pianist” plays Chopin Nocturne No. 20

Chopin nocturnes constitute 21 pieces for solo piano written by Frédéric Chopin between 1827 and 1846. They are generally considered among the finest short solo works for the instrument and hold an important place in the contemporary concert repertoire.

In fact, numbers 19 and 20 were actually written first, prior to Chopin’s departure from Poland, but published posthumously. Number 20 was not originally entitled “nocturne” at all, but since publication in 1870 as such, is generally included with publications and recordings of the set.

Władysław Szpilman “The Pianist” playing Chopin Nocturne No. 20 in C sharp minor

Władysław Szpilman

Władysław “Wladek” Szpilman (5 December 1911 – 6 July 2000) was a Polish-Jewish piano player and composer. He became widely known when Roman Polański made the 2002 movie “The Pianist” based on Szpilman’s of the same name recounting his survival of the German occupation of Warsaw and the Holocaust.

He was born in 1911 in Sosnowiec in a family of musicians. He grew up in Warsaw where he studied the piano at the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw. Everybody in Warsaw knew who he was, he became a very popular pianist and composer of both classical and popular music. He created many unforgettable songs and piano pieces. He is seen as one of the creators of Polskie Radio where he was performing classical and jazz music. On the 23rd of September 1939 after the German invasion, the Radio building was bombed right after broadcasting the last Chopin live recital played by Szpilman.

Wladyslaw Szpilman [The Pianist]
Władysław Szpilman (5 December 1911 – 6 July 2000) is widely known as the protagonist of the 2002 Roman Polanski film The Pianist.

He was taken with his family to a ghetto where he worked as a pianist in cafeterias trying to feed his whole family. He was able to run away from deportations to the Treblinka death camp but the rest of his family was killed. He survived the war due to his Polish friends and one of the German officers.

After the war, he came back to Polskie Radio. He gave many concerts all over the world with Bronisław Gimpel, a Polish-American violinist. Szpilman wrote over 500 songs, musicals, soundtracks, and orchestral pieces. He was one of the inventors of the Sopot Music Festival. He died in Warsaw in 2000.

Roman Polański’s “The Pianist” was filmed mostly in Warsaw. It was awarded the Palme d’Or at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival and 3 Oscars in the 75th Academy Awards.

Władysław Szpilman photo at the Warsaw Uprising Museum
Photo of Władysław Szpilman, the most famous of Warsaw Robinsons, at the Warsaw Uprising Museum. Photo: Wikipedia

The Pianist

“The Pianist” is a 2002 biographical war drama film directed by Roman Polanski, adapted from the autobiography of the same name by Polish-Jewish pianist and composer Władysław Szpilman. The movie presents a detailed and harrowing account of Szpilman’s survival during World War II, specifically within the Warsaw Ghetto and the subsequent destruction of Warsaw.

The film is renowned for its stark and realistic portrayal of the horrors of the Holocaust. Adrien Brody stars as Władysław Szpilman, delivering a deeply moving performance that earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor, making him the youngest actor to win in this category at the time.

The Pianist [Roman Polanski] poster
Poster of the 2002 Roman Polanski movie “The Pianist”

The narrative follows Szpilman’s life from 1939 to 1945, highlighting his struggles and the loss of his family to the Treblinka extermination camp. The film does not shy away from depicting the brutality of the German occupation of Poland and the extreme conditions that Szpilman and other Jews endured.

Polanski, a Holocaust survivor himself, brings a personal touch to the film, infusing it with authenticity and emotional depth. The film also received praise for its cinematography, capturing the desolation and despair of war-torn Warsaw, and its musical score, which features classical and romantic pieces, including works by Chopin, which Szpilman performed.

“The Pianist” was critically acclaimed and won numerous awards, including three Academy Awards: Best Director for Polanski, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actor for Brody. It also received seven French César Awards and the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

The film is not just a testament to Szpilman’s survival and resilience but also serves as a poignant reminder of the atrocities of the Holocaust. It’s a powerful, emotionally resonant film that leaves a lasting impact on its audience.


M. Özgür Nevres

Published by M. Özgür Nevres

I am Özgür Nevres, a software engineer, a former road racing cyclist, and also an amateur musician. I opened andantemoderato.com to share my favorite music. I also take care of stray cats & dogs. This website's all income goes directly to our furry friends. Please consider supporting me on Patreon, so I can help more animals!

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