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Ignacy Jan Paderewski

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Ignacy Jan Paderewski
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Ignacy Jan Paderewski

Ignacy Jan Paderewski (November 6, 1860June 29, 1941) was a Polish pianist, composer and politician, the third Prime Minister of Poland.

Biography

Ignacy Jan Paderewski was born in the village of Kuryłówka in the province of Podolia, Poland. His father was working there as an economist in the local mansion. His mother, Poliksena née Nowicka, died several months after Paderewski was born and he was brought up by his distant relatives.

From his early childhood Paderewski was interested in music. Initially he took piano classes with a private teacher. At the age of 12, in 1872, he went to Warsaw and was admitted to the Warsaw Conservatorium. After graduating in 1878 he was asked to become a tutor of piano classes in his alma mater, which he accepted. In 1880 he married Antonina Korsakówna and soon their first child was born. The following year, however, it turned out that the son was handicapped; soon afterward, Antonina died. Paderewski decided to devote himself to music and in 1881 he went to Berlin to study music composition with Friedrich Kiel and Heinrich Urban. In 1884 he moved to Vienna, where he was a pupil of Teodor Leszetycki. There he also made his first public appearance in 1887.

He soon gathered much popularity and his following appearances (in Paris in 1889 and in London in 1890) were a major success. His brilliant playing created a furore which went to almost extravagant lengths of admiration; and his triumphs were repeated in the United States in 1891. His name at once became synonymous with the highest level of piano playing, and society was at his feet.

Paderewski is remembered by many for his quote on the need for endurance in perfecting a skill: "If I don't practice for one day, I know it; if I don't practice for two days, the critics know it; if I don't practice for three days, the audience knows it."

Paderewski – the pianist
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Paderewski – the pianist

In 1899 he married Baroness de Rosen, and after 1900 he seldom appeared in public; rather, he became better known as a composer, chiefly of pieces for piano. In 1901 his opera Manru was performed at Dresden. He was also active as a social worker and donor. For instance, in 1910 he donated to the inhabitants of Kraków the Battle of Grunwald Monument. In 1913 Paderewski settled in the USA.

During World War I, Paderewski became an active member of the Polish National Committee in Paris, which was soon accepted by the Entente as the representation of the allied Poland, even though the country was still under German and Austro-Hungarian occupation. He became a spokesman of that organisation and soon also formed other social and political organisations, among them the Polish Relief Fund in London.

In April 1918, he met in New York City with leaders of the American Jewish Committee, including Louis Marshall, in an unsuccessful attempt to broker a deal whereby organized Jewish groups would support Polish territorial ambitions in exchange for support for equal rights. However, it soon became clear that no plan would satisfy both Jewish leaders and Roman Dmowski, head of the Polish National Committee. [Riff, 1992, 89-90]

At the end of the war, when the fate of the city of Poznań and the whole region of Greater Poland was still undecided, Paderewski visited Poznań. With his public speech on 27 December 1918, Polish inhabitants of Poznań started a military uprising against Germany, called the Great Poland Uprising.

In 1919, in the newly independent Poland, Paderewski became the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland (January, 1919 - November, 1919). As such, he represented Poland on the Paris Peace Conference. After his term ended he became the Polish ambassador to the League of Nations.

In 1922 he retired from political career and returned to concert life. His first concert after a long break was held in the Carnegie Hall and became a significant success. Soon he moved to Morges in Switzerland. After Piłsudski's coup d'etat in 1926, Paderewski became an active member of the opposition to Sanacja rule. In 1936 in his mansion a coalition of members of the opposition was signed; it was nicknamed the Front Morges after the name of the village.

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Paderewski

After the Polish Defence War of 1939 Paderewski returned to public life. In 1940 he became the head of the Polish National Council, a Polish parliament in exile in London. The eighty-year-old artist also restarted his Polish Relief Fund and gave several concerts (most notably in the United States) to gather money for it.

During one such tour in 1941, Paderewski died suddenly in New York, at 11:00 p.m. on June 29. He was buried in the Arlington Cemetery. In 1992, his ashes were brought to Warsaw and placed in a crypt in St. John's Cathedral.

Currently, in every major city in Poland there is a street named after Paderewski. There is also a street named for him in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. In addition, the Academy of Music in Poznań is named after him.

Medals and awards

References

  • Riff, Michael, The Face of Survival: Jewish Life in Eastern Europe Past and Present. Valentine Mitchell, London, 1992, ISBN 0853032203.


Preceded by:
Jedrzej Moraczewski
Prime Minister of Poland
1919
Succeeded by:
Leopold Skulski
Preceded by:
Leon Wasilewski
Minister of Foreign Affairs
1919
Succeeded by:
Władysław Wróblewski

Template:End boxfr:Ignacy Paderewski pl:Ignacy Jan Paderewski

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