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The Warsaw Voice » Destination Warsaw » December 21, 2011
Destination Warsaw
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Not So Gray After All
December 21, 2011   
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Arnan Wiesel, a pianist born in Israel and living in Australia, chats with Jolanta Wolska.

What brings you to Warsaw?
We have established an Australian International Chopin Piano Competition and I came here to set up cooperation with Polish music institutions, particularly those associated with Chopin’s music. During all the meetings I have had in Warsaw, including at the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Fryderyk Chopin National Institute and many others, everyone has been extremely enthusiastic and positive. They all offered genuine support. That is very encouraging.

What is your perception of cultural heritage in Warsaw?
It is substantial. There is a variety of influences from all over Europe. There is a sense of tradition and a sense of pride in the national cultural heritage.

What kind of Warsaw did you expect to find?
In a way, I am not sure what I expected, although I did think it would be gray, as for me psychologically Poland is still part of the “Eastern bloc.” I didn’t expect to see so much French influence, for example in the beautiful Wilanów Palace and gardens.

And is Warsaw gray today?
I am surprised that it is not, except in some places perhaps. I didn’t have much time to explore Warsaw, but it is so diverse and it has many assets. It is an interesting experience; each area has its own character. The Palace of Culture and Science isn’t all that bad. I could get used to it. It reminds me a bit of a building in the film Lord of the Rings.

And how did you find Warsaw musically?
It seems to be very diverse. There are different ideas of aesthetics here. Chopin is king and Szymanowski, Paderewski and others are not held in the same esteem. Here Chopin towers over them.
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