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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

New York tribute to Polish composer Paderewski  

22.10.2021 12:00
A star-studded concert in New York has marked the 80th anniversary of the death of the legendary Polish pianist, composer and statesman Ignacy Jan Paderewski.
Ignacy Jan Paderewski
Ignacy Jan PaderewskiNarodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe

The concert at New York’s Town Hall on Thursday featured Polish-born American pianist Magdalena Stern–Baczewska, who performed a selection of works by Paderewski and Chopin.

The performers also included Japanese pianist Takeshi Nagayasu, winner of the 2019 Chopin Competition in New York, and Russian pianist Alexander Kobrin, a prizewinner of the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw.

Mezzo-soprano Mary Ann McCormick, a soloist at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, sang arias from operas by Camille Saint-Saëns, Jules Massenet and Gaetano Donizetti.

Stern–Baczewska, who is a professor at New York's Columbia University, told Poland's PAP news agency that Paderewski was a celebrity "in the best sense of the word."

“His concerts were a campaign in support of Polish independence," she said. "The popularity and respect that he enjoyed helped him establish valuable contacts with politicians and leaders from various countries."

The Polish consul-general in New York, Adrian Kubicki, highlighted Paderewski’s role in the process of regaining independence by Poland more than a century ago.

“It was Paderewski who persuaded President Woodrow Wilson to include Polish independence in his list of demands at the end of World War I,” Kubicki said, adding that Paderewski played a significant role in promoting Polish culture in America.

Paderewski's opera Manru remains the only Polish work produced at New York's Metropolitan Opera.

In 1919, as prime minister and foreign affairs minister of newly-independent Poland, Paderewski co-chaired the Polish delegation to the Peace Conference in Paris and signed the Treaty of Versailles.

Paderewski died in the United States on June 29, 1941 and—following a decision by President Franklin D. Rooseveltwas buried at Arlington Military Cemetery in Washington.

In 1992, his remains were brought to Poland and buried at St. John’s Cathedral in Warsaw

(mk/gs)