Leading classical pianist hits out at smartphone filming fan

By | Published on Thursday 6 June 2013

Krystian Zimerman

Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman stormed off stage at the Ruhr Piano Festival in Germany this week after spotting an audience member filming his performance on a smartphone.

Assuming that said audience member planned to publish the footage online, the musician declared, on returning to the stage: “The destruction of music because of YouTube is enormous”. Although he did complete his concert, Zimerman declined to perform an encore and cancelled a post-concert reception.

Commenting on the incident, a spokeswoman for the festival told reporters: “He noticed someone up in the choir seats filming the concert on their smartphone. We think it was probably an iPhone. He asked them to stop, but they didn’t. So he interrupted the recital and walked off stage”.

Meanwhile the festival’s Director, Franz Xaver Ohnesorg, has said that he sympathises with Zimerman’s frustration, telling German media: “What happened is theft, pure and simple. It cuts particularly deeply when the artist is of a sensitive nature”.

The incident shows that the issue of fans recording gigs on their phones cuts across all genres of music. Various artists from the pop and rock genres have also hit out of the post-smartphone phenomenon, some because they don’t like having short video clips of their performances with questionable audio quality appearing online, others because they feel fans holding smartphones above their heads ruins the live experience for other gig goers.

As previously reported, Yeah Yeah Yeahs recently posted a sign at one of their gigs that read “Please do not watch the show through a screen on your smart device/camera. Put that shit away as a courtesy to the person behind you and to Nick, Karen and Brian”. While we don’t know how attendees at that particular gig responded to the request, the move garnered plenty of approval online after Spin magazine reported on it.