Monday, 23 December 2013

András Schiff "Why I won't perform in Hungary"

András Schiff on music, life and politics in a two part interview on BBC World Service starting at 1206. Note, it's the BBC World Service, not the usual big channels. The media in Britain seem to have given up on culture this year.  There's a write up here, too.

"Schiff cites the statue just erected in the centre of Budapest of Admiral Miklos Horthy, Hungary's wartime leader. He was, says Schiff, not a statesman, but "a war criminal", responsible for anti-Jewish laws, and overseeing the deportation of half a million Jews to Nazi death camps. Erecting monuments to the man is, he says, despicable.

"As to your question why I'm not playing my 60th birthday concert there," he says, with another laugh, "I don't even set foot in the country, not even as a private person." There is a counter-argument - that those opponents of the government, and the far-right, might draw succour from the appearance, in their country, of such a famous critic. Schiff is unapologetic, and matter-of-fact. "I have been threatened that if I return to Hungary, they will cut off both of my hands. I don't want to risk physical and mental assault.""

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