Krystian Zimerman, the great Polish concert pianist, is usually a man of few words. He doesn't, as a rule, talk to the audience during performances. He says little or nothing in the press between his all-too-rare concert tours - not even about his habit of travelling everywhere with his own Steinway grand piano. He rarely grants them the pleasure of an encore.
So he triggered more than the usual rumble of discomfort when he raised his voice in the closing stages of a recital at Los Angeles' Disney Hall on Sunday night and announced he would no longer perform in the United States in protest against Washington's military policies.
"Get your hands off my country," Zimerman told the stunned crowd in a denunciation of US plans to install a missile defence shield on Polish soil. Some people cheered, others yelled at him to shut up and keep playing.... Even more interesting is this, at the bottom of the story:
Shortly after 9/11, his piano was confiscated by customs officials at New York's JFK airport, who thought the glue smelled funny. They subsequently destroyed the instrument.
For several years he chose to travel with just the mechanical insides of his own piano and install them - he is a master piano repairer, as well as player - inside a Steinway shell he borrowed from the company in New York. In 2006 he tried to travel with his own piano again, only to have it held up in customs for five days and disrupt his performance schedule
Another good reason to own an Authorized virtual Steinway...