In today’s New York Sun, I have a review of a recital given on Tuesday night by Krystian Zimerman. (For the review, go here.) Zimerman is a Polish pianist, and one of the best in the world. (Pianists, I mean — not merely Polish ones.) He has said that he won’t play in the U.S. Why? Well, he’s cross with us — with our government, with our policies, etc. But he is perfectly happy to play in Austria, that model among nations (as I say in my review).
Some time ago, in Impromptus, I mentioned that Nigel Kennedy — the British violinist — won’t play in Israel. And Zimerman and Kennedy got me to thinking: Is there any other nation, apart from the U.S. or Israel, that they would boycott? Sudan, Burma, Zimbabwe, Cuba? What about North Korea? Earlier this year, our own New York Philharmonic went to play in Pyongyang, to great fanfare. I bet Zimerman and Kennedy would too.
In fact, I wonder whether there’s any musician anywhere who refuses to play in a country other than the U.S. or Israel. It’s a “funny old world,” as I say in my review. In some ways, it’s a disgusting one too, isn’t it?
The Iranian government has long referred to the U.S. as “the Great Satan” and to Israel as “the Little Satan.” Speaking as an American, I’m very happy to be a fellow Satan with the small, encircled, and great country of Israel.