WorldView Episode 13: Ignacy Jan Paderewski

        Before serving as the Prime Minister of Poland, Ignacy Jan Paderewski was an internationally acclaimed composer and pianist. He drew on lyrical and traditional works to influence his compositions, writing and performing for almost seven decades. 

Paderewski was born in southeast Poland in 1860, and raised by distant relatives of his parents. By age 12 he was prolific in piano performance and studying at the Warsaw Conservatory—where he would join the faculty less than a decade later. He soon moved to Vienna, funding his further studies through public concerts and appearances. Around this time he married his second wife, Helena Paderewska; the two would be together until her death in 1934. 

In 1891, Paderewski began the first of what became thirty American concert tours, to great success. He became instantly recognizable for his striking figure, pet parrot, and on-stage personality; the name “Paderewski” soon became synonymous with piano brilliance. He began exploring different mediums of composition, writing the opera Manru, one of the most famous operas ever written by a Polish composer. Paderewski was invited to be the first solo performer at the newly built Carnegie Hall, and quickly gained an immense, world-wide reputation as a formidable musician. Throughout his tenure as a composer, he wrote over seventy symphonic, chamber, and solo works. 

Beginning in World War I, Paderewski became active in Polish nationalist and liberation movements, and he stood out for his eloquence and ability to inspire crowds. When Poland became independent in 1919, he was appointed to be its first Prime Minister; Paderewski led the country for several months (signing the Treaty of Versailles) but resigned after criticism surrounding his relationship with Western countries. He continued to represent his country at various conferences throughout the post-war years, but returned eventually to solely focus on music—he toured extensively throughout the world before his death in 1941.   

In this episode of WorldView, the London Symphony Orchestra, Arthur Fiedler, and pianist Earl Wild perform Paderewski’s Fantaisie Polonaise. The work was written in 1893, and was often used in concert by Paderewski to emphasize the realities of occupied Poland. 

 

WorldView Episode Thirteen Playlist:

Joseph SCHWANTNER, “Black Anemones”, {Lisa Garner (flt), Nataliya Sukhina (pf)} – MSR Classics 

Linda BOUCHARD, “Pourtinade”, {Kim Kashkashian (vla), Robyn Schulkowsky (perc)} – ECM New Series

Ignacy Jan PADEREWSKI, “Fantaisie Polonaise, Op.19”, {London Symphony Orchestra, Arthur Fiedler, Earl Wild (pf)} – Ivory Classics

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH, “Piano Trio No. 1 in C minor”, {Morgenstern Trio} – Azica

 

WorldView is a classical music radio show featuring composers from everywhere in the world – except Western Europe. Tune in to hear works by lesser-known artists such as Gabriela Montero  and Bright Sheng, and widen your knowledge of classical music. Hinke Younger hosts each week’s episode of WorldView on Mondays at 9AM and again at 6PM on Charlottesvilleclassical.org.

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