Polish Pianist and Composer

Ignace Jan Paderewski is one of the most famous pianists in history. He was a superstar pianist, a movie star, and a Prime Minister of Poland. So why is he today treated with less than the respect he deserves? It may be the natural inclination to look for the Achilles heels of the rich and famous. It may be that he made many records late in life at a time when his playing was less than it had been. It may be the outgrowth of somewhat malicious comments made by jealous peers. Or it may be that familiarity breeds contempt, he did record an awful lot. And his Hollywood appearances playing the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 have certainly not helped. But on the basis of a few recordings alone, Paderewski deserves the fame and glory that are his.

Enough has been written about Paderewski that I do not need to go into the detail of his life. (If you are interested, there is a Wikipedia article that covers the salient points.) Suffice it to say that he was a pupil of Theodor Leschetizky in Vienna, and as with so many of Leschetizky's better pupils, embarked on what was to become, in his case, a phenomenally successful career as a concert pianist.

Less widely known is the fact that Ignace Jan Paderewski was also a very accomplished composer. His only opera, Manru, was performed by the Metropolitan Opera in 1902 and is to this day the only Polish opera by a Polish composer ever to have been performed there. And no less a composer than Sir Edward Elgar borrowed a theme from Paderewski's Fantasie Polonaise. Paderewski wrote piano music, songs, chamber music, a piano concerto dedicated to Leschetizky, and a symphony.

Perhaps the only work by Paderewski that is widely known is his Minuet in G, so I'll start there with two recordings, one from 1917 and another from 1937. Even though Paderewski was well past his prime by the time of the later recording, the gorgeous playing for which he was so admired is still evident. And you will hear an infinately superior minuet to the one we have all massacred as young piano students. What will be a huge surprise to those who only know Paderewski from recordings like the Liszt second Hungarian Rhapsody is the delicacy and subtlety of his playing.

The Chopin C sharp minor Waltz from Opus 64 is just beautifully played, certainly one of the finest performances of this piece I know. The Chopin Etude Op 25 No 2, I can easily imagine myself swooning in the aisle. And his Beethoven and Schumann (just listen to his recording of The Prophet Bird from Wladszenen)just make me wish desperately that he had recorded more.

As for those who make disparaging comments about his technique, It's the MUSIC ....

I should add that Paderewski edited the complete works of Chopin in a very handsome edition which I have been using, along with the Cortot edition, for much of my life. I have always found his fingerings to be excellent and based on facility rather than dogma. You could not tell it from my playing, but I owe him much.

Paderewski Humoresques de Concert Op 14 Cahier 1 a l'antique

1 Minuet in G major
4 Caprice (genre Scarlatti) in G major
recorded in 1917


1 Paderewski Minuet in G
recorded in 1937

Paderewski Cracovienne Fantastique in B major
6 from Humoresques de Concert, Op 14 Cahier 2
recorded in 1912

Paderewski Nocturne in B♭ major, Op 16~4
(preceded by a 1920 recording of the work by Guiomar Novaes)
recorded in 1911

Chopin Waltz in C♯ minor, Op 64~2
recorded in 1917

Chopin Waltz in A♭ major, Op 34~1

recorded in 1911

and in 1922

Chopin Mazurka, Op 17~4
recorded in 1912

Chopin Mazurka in F♯ minor, Op 59~3
(preceded by a recording of the work by Vladimir de Pachmann)

Chopin Nocturne in E♭ Major, Op 9~2

Chopin Nocturne in F Major, Op 15~1
recorded in 1911

Chopin Nocturne in F♯ major, Op 15~2
recorded in 1927

Chopin Nocturne in B major, Op 62~1
recorded in 1938

Chopin Nocturne in E Major, Op 62~2
recorded in 1911

Chopin Etude, Op 10~5
recorded in 1917

Chopin Etude, Op 10~12 "Revolutionary"

Chopin Etude Op 25~1

Chopin Etude in C♯ minor, Op 25 n7
recorded in 1917

Chopin Ballade 3 in A♭ major, Op 47
piano roll recorded in 1925

Chopin Berceuse in D♭ major, Op 57

Chopin Mazurka in B♭ minor, Op 24~4
piano roll recorded in 1922

Chopin Polonaise in A♭ Major, Op 53
recorded in 1938

Chopin Sonata 2 in B♭ minor, Op 35 (movements 3 and 4)
recorded in 1928

Chopin/Liszt "The Maiden's Wish"
recorded in 1912

Schumann "Des Abends" n1 and "Aufschwung" n2 from Fantasiestucke, Op 12
recorded in 1912

Schumann "Warum" from Fantasiestucke, Op 12
recorded in 1914


Schumann Nachtstücke, Op 23~4

Schumann Waldszenen, Op 82~7 "Vogel as Prophet"
recorded in 1926

Schubert Impromptu in A flat Major Op 142 n2
recorded in 1939

Schubert Impromptu in B flat Major Op 142 n3
recorded in 1924

Schubert Moment Musical in A flat Major, Op 94 n2
recorded in 1931

Schubert/Liszt Hark, Hark the Lark
recorded in 1922

Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody 2
piano roll recorded in 1923

Schubert/Liszt "Soirée de Vienne" n6
piano roll

Liszt "La Leggierezza"

Strauss-Tausig "Man lebt nur einmal!" (You Only Live Once!), Waltz Op 167
recorded 1930

Beethoven Piano Sonata 14 in C sharp minor "Quasi una fantasia" Op 27n2 "Moonlight"
Recorded in 1937

i Adagio sostenuto

ii Allegretto sostenuto
iii Presto agitato

Debussy "Reflets dans l'eau"
Recorded in 1926

Debussy Four Preludes (from Book I)
1 Danseuses de Delphes - 2 Voiles - 3 Le Vent dans la plaine - 12 Minstrels
Recorded in 1930

Stojowski "Chant d'amour"
Recorded in 1926

Here is my new book, a murder mystery with a musical polemic

and the audiobook version

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