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Over the subsequent weeks, the German officer regularly brought bread to the Jewish musician, and news from the Front.
Finally, in December 1944, he left him with the words: "The war will be over by spring at the latest." As Szpilman tells it now, the story sounds like a coincidence, a once-in-a-life-time piece of luck.
Szpilman, who died three years ago, was an artist of sterling pedigree, which all but guarantees his recordings won't be a redux of the David Helfgott-style compromised pianism heard in the wake of the 1996 film Shine.
The academy "appreciated the fate that befell my father, the total degradation of a well-known artist under war conditions," said Andrzej Szpilman , a doctor who lives in Europe and who attended the Academy Award ceremony in Los Angeles.Inside his sitting room there are shelves of old books, a Bieder-meier secretaire, a polished parquet floor.Black and white photographs of old friends stand in rows on the piano; prints and framed mementoes hang from the white walls.Nearly identical in their selection of works, the two discs differ mainly in Sony's inclusion of a CD-ROM video feature of the aging Szpilman playing Chopin's Nocturne in C sharp minor in 1980. The dignity of the pianist's manner has infinitely more impact if you know that this is the piece he was playing when Polish Radio was destroyed by the Nazis and that he returned to five years later, after the Nazis had been destroyed.Without asking for the slightest bit of sympathy, he was recreating a moment that was emblematic for his country and all Jewish survivors of World War II.