He studied piano with Józef Śmidowicz and Aleksander Michałowski at Warsaw’s Higher School of Music, piano with Artur Schnabel and Leonid Kreutzer and composition with Franz Schreker at the Berlin State Academy. He played Chopin in Polish Radio’s last wartime broadcast in September 1939 (and opened the PR’s first postwar broadcast with the same programme). In Warsaw Ghetto from 1940, and then hid on the Aryan side from 1943 onwards. When the war ended, Szpilman returned to Polish Radio as deputy head of the music department, and (till 1963) also head of popular music section.
In 1963 he founded the Warsaw Quintet, with which he gave (until 1986) more than 2000 concerts in Europe, Asia, Africa, and both Americas.
Szpilman composed many symphonic and piano pieces, as well as a violin concerto, but he mainly wrote popular music. He authored more than 500 songs, some of which became hits. He also composed music for films, radio dramas for children, as well as musicals. He organised the first Sopot International Song Festival in 1961.
1946 saw the publication of a censored version of his wartime memoir, co-edited with Jerzy Waldorff (Death of a City). The full version of the book came out as The Pianist first in Germany and Great Britain, and in 2000 also in Poland. Roman Polański based his eponymous film on this memoir.
Szpilman’s accolades included the Gold Cross of Merit, the Knight’s Cross and Commander’s Cross with Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta.

Phot. PAP Stanisław Dąbrowiecki
Przewiń do góry