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Ignacy Jan Paderewski


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He was born on November 6, 1860 in Kuryłówka near Żytomierz in Podolia. From an early age he was interested in music, he liked to play and compose.

At the age of 12, he began studies at the Music Conservatory in Warsaw. After graduating, at the age of 19, he became a professor at this university. Here he met his first wife. As a 20-year-old young man, he experienced one of the greatest tragedies of his life - the death of his wife and the incurable disease of his only son, Albert.

Paderewski continued his musical studies in Berlin and Vienna. His debut took place in Vienna in 1887, and concerts in Paris / 1888 / and in London / 1890 / started a great international career and the legend of an unmatched piano virtuoso. Concerts in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and especially America made his name famous. He came to the United States for the first time in 1891. He came here many times, made 20 concert tours and gave about 1,500 solo recitals. America became his second homeland, he was always received here with enthusiasm and admiration. Paderewski met many outstanding Americans, and his successes raised the activity and prestige of the entire Polish community.

He also gave concerts in Chicago, incl. in 1893 during the international exhibition / Columbian Exposition / organized on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America by Columbus. In this city, he encouraged young Americans of Polish descent to join the ranks of the Polish Army, led by Józef Haller, which was being formed in France. In 1932, Chicago's then Major Anton Cermak made him an Honorary Citizen of the City.


Ignacy Paderewski is not only a phenomenal impersonator of the music of Chopin, Liszt, Beethoven and Brahms, but also a great composer. His works include the most famous orchestras in the world in their repertoire. Paderewski is the author of the famous Piano Concerto in A minor, the composition "Polish Fantasy" for piano and orchestra, the symphony "Polonia", the opera "Manru", countless piano pieces and miniatures, including the famous Minuet in G major and the fantastic Krakowiak and songs to words Asnyk and Mickiewicz.

Paderewski used the financial success accompanying his popularity and fame in public activities. He shared his property generously with both his countrymen and citizens of many other countries. He provided funds and foundations, thanks to his financial support, concert halls and monuments were created, incl. the Liszt monument in Weimar, Beethoven in Bonn, Chopin in Żelazowa Wola, Kościuszko in Chicago, the Washington Arch in New York and the Grunwald monument in Krakow unveiled during the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald.

The second, next to music, passion in Paderewski's life was the issue of Poland's independence and the restoration of a free homeland for Poles. In 1915, in an appeal to the Polish community in America, he wrote: "I am a Pole, a faithful son of my motherland. The thought about great and strong Poland, free and independent, was and is the essence of my existence, its realization was and is the only goal of my life ”. This idea was served by his numerous journeys in Europe and the American continent, meetings with heads of states and statesmen, and rich correspondence with them. Long before the creation of independent Poland, he was its advocate and ambassador.

During World War I, he became a representative of the Polish National Committee in the USA and, as an ardent advocate of the Polish cause in the United States, he exerted, among others, influence on the content of the famous 13th point of President Wilson's Message about Poland's right to unification, independence and access to the Baltic Sea.

Paderewski's arrival in Poznań in December 1918 signaled the outbreak of the Greater Poland Uprising, the only successful Polish national uprising. His countrymen, enthusiastic about freedom, saw in him, next to Piłsudski and Dmowski, the "father" of the reborn Polish state. In January 1919, he became Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the first government of the Second Polish Republic recognized by world powers. As a representative of Poland, he signed the Treaty of Versailles, ending the First World War. In 1921, he resigned from his political career and settled first on his California estate and then in Morges, Switzerland.

With the start of World War II, he became involved in the creation and support of the government of General Władysław Sikorski. He was the first chairman of the National Council established at the end of 1939 - the Polish parliament in exile.

He died on June 29, 1941 in New York. On the orders of President Roosevelt, he was temporarily buried, with the highest honors, at the National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, from where he was to be transported to his homeland when she regained her freedom. According to Paderewski's will, however, his heart was to remain in the United States. In 1986, on the 45th anniversary of his death, the Master's heart was placed in a decorative urn in American Czestochowa, in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. In 1992, the pianist's ashes returned to Poland and rest in the Cathedral of St. John in Warsaw.

The fame of a genius pianist, an excellent composer, a great activist - a patriot, a man with an extraordinary, fascinating personality was associated with honors, decorations and honors. Nine universities in Europe and America have awarded him with the title of doctor honoris causa. In many places on both continents there are his monuments, busts, commemorative plaques and museums. It is worth visiting Paderewski's manor house in Kąśna Dolna near Tarnów and the Polish Museum in Chicago, which has a permanent exhibition of memorabilia and documents related to the life and activities of Ignacy Paderewski. The Academy of Music in Poznań is named after him, and the Collegium Paderewianum is part of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. For 40 years, Ignacy Jan Paderewski has also been the Patron of our School.

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