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The son of the Polish Holocaust survivor who was the subject of Roman Polanski 's Oscar-winning film "The Pianist" hailed the awards as a tribute to the victims of World War II.

The academy "appreciated the fate that befell my father, the total degradation of a well-known artist under war conditions," said Andrzej Szpilman , a doctor who lives in Europe and who attended the Academy Award ceremony in Los Angeles.

Written in flat, almost emotionless prose, The Pianist evokes the strange mix of horror and elation Szpilman must have felt at that time.

Performances conceived, delivered and heard during a state of crisis, or in its aftermath, can be hugely different from those that are not.

Szpilman's fellow musicians - whatever side they were on during the war - changed so much over the 1940s and after that the great masterpieces they performed seemed to rewrite themselves. How the current war will change what we hear remains to be, well, heard.

His whole family was dead, his city was in ruins, and yet, against all possible odds, he remained alive.

Both the book, and the man himself, are also devoid of any desire for vengeance.

David Patrick Stearns Philadelphia Courier Sun, Mar.

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