World-renowned pianist declares he will not return to U.S.

Krystian Zimerman, one of the world’s most well-regarded concert pianists, said he will not return to the United States because of the nation’s military policies and President Barack Obama’s support for a missile shield site in Zimerman’s home country of Poland.

Zimerman made the announcement during a Sunday concert at California’s Walt Disney Concert Hall.

“Get your hands off of my country,” he said, according to the Los Angeles Times. ” He also made reference to the U.S. military detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,” the paper reported.

“About 30 or 40 people in the audience walked out, some shouting obscenities. ‘Yes,’ he answered, ‘some people when they hear the word military start marching.’

“Others remained but booed or yelled for him to shut up and play the piano. But many more cheered. Zimerman responded by saying that America has far finer things to export than the military, and he thanked those who support democracy.”

“Zimerman appears to have been upset by Barack Obama’s decision, announced this month, to maintain the Bush-era policy of installing a missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic,” reported the Guardian.

“Obama insisted the shield was part of a defensive posture against Iran, not Russia, and that he intended to remove it as soon as the threat from Iran subsided. But many Poles have accused the US of wanting to mount a military occupation of their country, and fear the shield could make them a target of Russian aggression.”

“He has talked for the last couple years about his touring in the States and of not coming back for a while,” Mary Pat Buerkle, Zimerman’s manager, told the Associated Press on Monday. “I think that there are many contributing factors to that decision, and I don’t think it’s appropriate to say it’s all political.”

The pianist announced in 2006 that he would not return to the United States until former President George W. Bush was out of office. The same year during a concert in Baltimore, Zimerman criticised the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Soon after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Zimerman’s custom Steinway piano was intercepted at JFK airport and destroyed by the Transportation Security Administration because the glue “smelled funny.”

“I hope Zimerman reconsiders his U.S. embargo. He has, of course, angered some Americans,” wrote the Los Angeles Times‘ Mark Swed. “But our country is precisely the place where politics are not outlawed from the concert hall. And I can’t imagine a more compelling case to be made for Polish solidarity than his incomparable performance of these variations. ”

By Stephen C. Webster
Published: April 27, 2009

Source: The Raw Story

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