Pianist Schiff says life in danger if he returns to Hungary


(JTA) — Concert pianist Andras Schiff said that he has been threatened with having his hands cut off if he returns to Hungary.

Schiff, an outspoken critic of the right-wing government of Viktor Orban and its relationship with the nationalist Jobbik Party, told the BBC in an interview Monday that “things in Hungary are not very good, to put it mildly.”

Schiff was responding to questions about why his 60th birthday performance was held in Britain instead of his Hungarian homeland. He cited the recent erecting of a statue in honor of Hungary’s World War II leader Miklos Horthy, whom he called a “war criminal” for overseeing the deportation of a half-million Jews to Nazi death camps.

Schiff said it is not only the government that is responsible for the current situation in Hungary.  “There’s very little civilian courage. People are scared to speak up,” he told the BBC.

Schiff emigrated from Hungary in 1979, accepted Austrian citizenship in 1987 and became a British citizen in 2001.

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