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

Front Cover
Picador, Sep 2, 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 240 pages
2 Reviews

Named one of the Best Books of 1999 by the Los Angeles Times, The Pianist is now a major motion picture directed by Roman Polanski and starring Adrien Brody (Son of Sam). The Pianist won the Cannes Film Festival's most prestigious prize—the Palme d'Or.

On September 23, 1939, Wladyslaw Szpilman played Chopin's Nocturne in C-sharp minor live on the radio as shells exploded outside—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 testament to human endurance and the redemptive power of fellow feeling.


What people are saying - Write a review

The pianist: the extraordinary story of one man's survival in Warsaw, 1939-45

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Szpilman's memoir of life in the Warsaw ghetto is remarkable not only for the heroism of its protagonists but for the author's lack of bitterness, even optimism, in recounting the events. Written and ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

The Pianist


The Hour of the Children and the
The First Germans
My Father Bows to the Germans
Are You Jews?
Dancing in Chlodna Street 7 A Fine Gesture by Mrs
An Anthill Under Threat
The Umschlagplatz
Trouble and Strife Next Door
Szalas Betrayal
In a Burning Building
Death of a City
Life for Liquor
Nocturne in C sharp minor

A Chance of Life
Marksmen Arise

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2000)

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. He lives in Warsaw

Bibliographic information