Paderewski Documentary

The great Paderewski. - Ignace Jan Paderewski was a dominating figure among artists of the world for half a century. One of really momentous in the world of music in 1939 is the return of this distinguished man to the concert stage for a brief tour.
Paderewski first visited the United States many years ago. He returned frequently until the period when he retired to serve his native Poland first as emissary to Washington and later as the first Premier of Poland. When he retired from politics his fortune had been dissipated in promoting Poland's development as an independent country. So in 1922 he returned to the concert stage.

Ignace Jan Paderewski was born on November 6th, 1860 in the village of Kurylowka, in the province of Podola, that part of Poland which was at the time, and still is Russia.


His father, Jan Paderewski, belonged to the Polish lender gentry, which formed the bulk of the Polish nation and were essentially agricultural. His mother, nee Nowicka, was the daughter of a professor of the Vilna University, whom the Russians had exiled to Siberia for being patriotic. Thus it happened that the mother of the future liberator of Poland had been born herself in Kursk, a Siberian town to which Russia deported most of her political offenders.


In 1863, during last Polish insurrection, Ignace suddenly became deprived of parental care through the death of his mother and the incarceration of his father for having participated in the patriotic uprising. At the age of three, the pianist-to-be witnessed the burning of his village, the slaughter of its inhabitants, and cried his heart out at the sight of ruthless Cossacks leading his father away to jail. During the few months absence of the older Paderewski from home, Ignace and his five year old sister went to live with an aunt.

These gruesome events probably had much to do toward awakening in the soul of the youth, the patriotic feelings, which later on had so much influence upon his destiny.


Ignace Jan Paderewski's childhood was not a happy one. While an infant he lost his mother and received but little attention from his father. His sister, Autoinette, was his best friend who, although but two years older, mothered him through the early stages of his life.


Little Ignace's greatest pleasure, in those days, was to play host. Even when he was too young to know anything about the art of writing or spelling, he used to scribble incomprehensible notes on bits of paper supposed to be invitations for tea, and addressed to children in the neighborhood. These meaningless scripts were distributed by '' sister'' who explained their purpose by word of mouth.

When the guests arrived they were received by Ignace and Auntoinette in a loft, where tea was served in miniature cups in the midst of old trunks and venerable pieces of furniture which had outlived their days of usefulness. Tea and cakes having been duly consumed, Ignace divided his guests into two camps, enemy camps of course, representing the Polish and Russian sides. 

Mounted upon a wooden horse, a toy sword in hand and national Polish cap with a peacock father on his head, Ignace lead the Polish army to the attack of the Russian enemy. Oftentimes, the guests went home very much bruised. On other occasion, it was Ignace's lot to bear on his face, for many days, the scars of battle. ''' Some days, I'll save Poland just like that,'' declared young Paderewski after each victory.

Paderewski made his debut in 1887 in Vienna. His appearance with the Lamoureux Orchestra in 1888 in Paris marked the beginning of his fame. In 1890, London hailed him as the '' master pianist .'' The following year he made his first visit to United States. Taking this country by storm the handsome young pianist with the shock of red hair was obliged to give 107 recitals that season, instead of the eighty originally planned for.

When the World War was declared he used the piano to help his stricken Poland. He gave scores of concerts for the benefit of Polish relief. He plunged into the thick of things and distinction as a statesman no less pronounced than as a pianist.


Paderewski made hundreds of speeches, and although his English at the time was practically perfect, he took two lessons a week to polish it. He became a brilliant orator in three languages, - English, Polish and French. He helped raise an army of 25,000 Poles in America.

In 1917 he closed his piano to become the official Polish emissary in Washington, receiving the appointment through a Polish committee in Paris. It was largely through his efforts that Poland was made a free state. He became its first premier. Political strife led to his retirement at the end of 1919 and he withdrew to Morgan, out of political life forever.

Poland still regards him with reverence and gratitude for his immense service during the Peace Conference. He surprised hardened statesmen there by his wide knowledge of European affairs and his practical, conservative judgment. 

His speeches at the conference made a great impression because of his unusual endowment as an orator, one which combined passionate feeling with clarity and exactness of thought. The personal friendship of many Allied statesman were an important factor. Loyd George, for example was opposed to many of the Polish claims, but he liked Paderewski and once or twice gave him warning of undercover anti-Polish moves.


When world affairs claimed him he said farewell to his instrument, intending never to play it again. It remained silent for six years. But when he retired from political life his personal fortune had been practically exhausted in promoting the development of Poland as an independent country. He returned to the concert stage in 1922 and was welcomed back with frenzy.
During the eminent artist's American tour he Lives entirely on a private. Pullman car, as he has on most of his previous tours. Paderewski travels in a private car as a matter of convenience. It saves him the trouble of having to get up at an early hour to catch a morning train, or wait around for a late one following an evening concert. To get a good hot freshly prepared dinner at a hotel at midnight is often difficult.


The car has as nearly as possible the appointments of a home-his piano, his own books, comfortable chairs and attractive hangings. It has its own lighting and heating system so that it can be side-traced without losing any comforts. It is connected by telephone with each city where Paderewski stops for a concert. It has a special chef and accommodations for the pianist's entourage of seven people.


The routine of the car is always the same. Paderewski waked late, rings for tea, then goes through an hour of daily dozens. He practices three or four hours a day, but only when the train is standing still. Those who have toured with him tell of how in the evening when the car is side-traced, Paderewski will start playing. Outside his window a brace man stops to listen, then an engineer, then other yard employees until a fair sized group is standing silently beside the car, listening with rapt attention to this wonderful music.


On concert days Paderewski retires to his stateroom about five o'clock to rest and concentrate. He emerges from his retirement dressed for the performance, but never eats before, going on the stage. His dinner comes after the the concert. On evening when he is not playing, he likes nothing better than to go to a movie.

A Week,s visit to his ranch in Paso Robles, California will break his tour. The ranch is a thriving affair, about 2,600 acres in size and under cultivation mainly to almonds, prunes , grapes and walnuts. It not only pays its own way but each season nets a modest surplus. On past visits to this country the great virtuoso has insisted on having three weeks set aside entirely free from concerts so that he might enjoy the spring at Paso Robles. But the shortness of his present visit limits the time he will be able to atay there this year.


Temporary boredom was responsible for Paderewski buying what is now a treasured possession. At the advice of a friend he had gone to Paso Robles to rest in the midst of one of his tours. He had no sooner settled down in the local hotel for what he intended to be a few days stay when a terrible storm ensued, causing all railroad service to be interrupted for days Paderewski became desperately bored. Like all true Poles, he has a passion for kind and he sought diversion in buying himself a ranch.


For many years Paderewski's official home has been in Morges, Switzerland on the shore of Lake Geneva. His château, known as Riond Bosson, sits on a ridge from which can be seen the waters of the Lake and the magnificent panorama of the Savoyan Alps. Half of the grounds are woodland-firs, beeches and poplars. In one corner is the sheepfold containing the descendants of the celebrated sheep given to Paderewski by the President of Argentina i 1911.

In another corner are fruit trees, whose apples, peaches and pears bring exceptionally high prices in the market. If a record had been kept of those who have been entertained at Riond Bosson during the past thirty years, it would be a veritable Golden Book of celebrities-musicians, painters, sculptors, writers, poets, statesman and men of affairs. Whenever Paderewski has been at home, he has kept open house. His hospitality is famous with all who have been fortunate enough to visit his Swiss chateau





   All rights reserved. VideoFact © 1999, 2000