Dr. Andrzej Szpilman is the son of Wladyslaw Szpilman, author of "The Pianist" and the protagonist in Roman Polansky's film from 2002 as described in the previous pianoways post.
Before becoming a dentist Andrzej Szpilman was a composer and music producer. He edited his father's book and wrote the introduction for the 1998 and later editions.
Pianoways: Dr. Szpilman, thank you so much for joining us here. Please tell us what it was like growing up with a father who was a brilliant pianist.
Szpilman: My father practiced every morning from 8.00 to 11.30 at home. I spent my early childhood sitting underneath the grand piano and taking in the music.
P: Was the door open when he practiced? were you asked to be quiet while he played?
S: The door was open and life went on normally around him. The only one who wasn't allowed into the room was the dog, because it would sing along, especially when my father played Chopin.
P: Most of the soundtrack to the movie is Chopin. Was Chopin the composer he felt closest to?
S: My father studied with Arthur Schnabel and other great teachers, who were all part of the Chopin-Liszt school. They passed this unique and specific culture on to him.
He played all the main piano repertoire. From the years I heard him play I am familiar with every note in the piano literature by Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Schumann and Brahms.
P: He also played chamber music.
S: In the afternoons he would either go to play for the Polish Radio or rehearse with other musicians at home. Many great musicians regularly came to our house to play with him. He always had people over: violinists rehearsed sonatas with him and of course his chamber music friends would be there all the time. I grew up in a house of music.
P: Did he want you to play the piano too?
S: My father never forced me do anything. He believed education should be based on mutual respect between parents and their children. I played the violin for some years and went to a music based primary school, before deciding this wasn't right for me.
Over the years I had thousands of patients in my dental practice and I constantly witnessed how children who learn a musical instrument develop a respectful relationship with their parents, compared to those who are not involved with music.
It is also well known that playing a musical instrument is beneficial to the brain as in no other way, as it stimulates many brain centers at once. It should actually be a fundamental part in the education of every child.
P: Did your father teach piano?
S: The only time in his life that he taught was during the years in the Warsaw ghetto, to earn money for his family. This was before the gates of the ghetto were closed. Students from the Arian side of Warsaw would come to him for lessons, including the wonderful pianist and composer Kazimierz Serocki.
P: Did your father also play other genres?
S: Once a week he would play jazz for 15 minutes on the Polish radio. Officially all these broadcasts were supposed to have been deleted, but people on the staff there enjoyed his playing so much that they kept some of the recordings. He never practiced jazz at home, he just improvised for the radio.
P: Looking at your father's photos I get the feeling he had a good sense of humor.
S: You can sense his character by reading his book which is written as a mosaic. Each scene is short and ends with a twist that is ironic, sarcastic or funny. That is what gives the book its lively character.
P: Thank you and we are looking forward to reading the book you are currently working on!
(Interview translated from German)
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Related post: Wladyslaw Szpilman: "The Pianist"