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The Pianist (Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Edition)

The Extraordinary True Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945

Wladyslaw Szpilman; Translated by Anthea Bell


The Pianist (Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Edition) Download image

ISBN10: 1250249546
ISBN13: 9781250249548

Trade Paperback

240 Pages


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On September 23, 1939, Wladyslaw Szpilman played Chopin's Nocturne in C sharp minor live on the radio as shells exploded outside a nearby window—so loudly that he couldn't hear his piano. It was the last live music broadcast from Warsaw; that day, a German bomb hit the station, and Polish Radio went off the air.

Though he lost his entire family, Szpilman survived in hiding. In the end, his life was saved by a German officer who heard him play the same Chopin Nocturne on a piano found among the rubble. Written immediately after the war and suppressed for decades, The Pianist is "a stunning tribute to what one human being can endure," as The Cleveland Plain Dealer observed, and "a testimony to the redemptive power of fellow feeling."


Praise for The Pianist (Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Edition)

"Stunning . . . Filled with unforgettable incidents, images, and people."—The Wall Street Journal

"Remarkable . . . A document of lasting historical and human value."—The Los Angeles Times

"Historically indispensible."—The Washington Post Book World

"The Pianist is a great book."—The Boston Globe

"Even by the standards set by Holocaust memoirs, this book is a stunner."—Seattle Weekly

"The Pianist is a book so fresh and vivid, so heartbreaking, and so simply and beautifully written, that it manages to tell us the story of horrendous events as if for the first time . . . an altogether unforgettable book."—The Daily Telegraph (London)

"Wladyslaw Szpilman's memoir of life in Nazi-occupied Warsaw and the Jewish ghetto has a singular vividness. All is conveyed with an understated intimacy and dailiness that render them painfully close."—The Observer (London)

"It is all told with a simple clarity that lodges the story in one's stomach through a mixture of disgust, terror, despair, rage, and guilt that grips the reader almost gently."—The Spectator (London)

"Illuminates vividly the horror that overcame the Polish people. Szpilman's account has an immediacy, vivid and anguished."—The Sunday Telegraph (London)

"A striking Holocaust memoir that conveys with exceptional immediacy and cool reportage the author's desperate fight for survival."—Kirkus Reviews

"Distinguished by [Szpilman's] dazzling clarity . . . Remarkably lucid."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt

1 ~ The Hour of the Children and the Mad

I began my wartime career as a pianist in the Café Nowoczesna, which was in Nowolipki Street in the very heart of the Warsaw ghetto. By the time the gates of the ghetto closed in November...

About the author

Wladyslaw Szpilman; Translated by Anthea Bell

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 he also pursued a career as a concert pianist and composer for many years. The film adaptation of his memoir The Pianist won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival as well as three Academy Awards. He lived in Warsaw until his death in 2000.

Wladyslaw Szpilman