2007: the Year of Artur Rubinstein
At its session on 7 March 2007, the Polish Sejm adopted a resolution on declaring 2007 the year of Artur Rubinstein.
of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland
of 7 March 2007
on declaring 2007 the year of Artur Rubinstein
Artur Rubinstein, one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century, praised the greatness of Poland and Polish music with his whole life and talent. He was an unparalleled performer of the works of Fryderyk Chopin, a promoter of the music of Karol Szymanowski who was recognized as the successor of Poland's greatest composer, a musical citizen of the world invited to all the greatest concert venues, and at the same time a great patriot and great Pole.
We shall never forget all that Maestro Rubinstein did to defend the dignity and memory of Poland during both world wars and in the time of communist enslavement. He felt a special love for Lodz - his birthplace.
The year 2007 marks the 120th anniversary of his birth, and the 25th anniversary of his death.
Believing that his artistic achievement was of special importance to the national and world heritage, the Sejm of the Republic of Poland hereby declares 2007 the Year of Artur Rubinstein.
/-/ Marek Jurek
The year 2007 marks the 120th anniversary of the birth of Maestro Artur Rubinstein, one of the world's greatest pianists, an outstanding and unparalleled Chopinist. He was born on 28 January 1887 in Lodz (to a Jewish family), and died in Geneva on 20 December 1982. His performance on 1 December 1900 in Berlin is considered to have been the Artist's debut, whereas his international career began in Paris, also in December, in 1904. It is estimated that he performed 6,000 times in the course of an artistic career spanning more than 80 years.
He is recognized as the greatest promoter of the works of Fryderyk Chopin and Karol Szymanowski, and a great populariser of Polish music around the world. Unfortunately he is still more often identified as an American, than as a Pole - whereas though he received U.S. citizenship after the war and lived in the United States (with houses also in Paris and Spain), Rubinstein felt a Pole till the end of his days. He was universally considered one of the greatest personalities of his time, a friend of the greatest people of the previous century: artists, scientists, intellectuals, politicians... at the same time, he was a very modest man who loved people and music; an extremely hard-working man, a great storyteller, and an erudite in many fields.
His artistry delighted the greatest and most important audiences of the world's major theatres and philharmonics. He performed with the greatest philharmonic orchestras and with the most eminent conductors: Emil Mlynarski, Grzegorz Fitelberg, John Barbirolli, Daniel Barenboim, Vladimir Golschman and Fritz Reiner. He popularised and rendered famous the music of Karol Szymanowski (who died in 1937), the greatest Polish composer after Chopin. Rubinstein and Szymanowski were good friends. Szymanowski dedicated his SYMPHONY NO. 4 (SYMPHONIE CONCERTANTE) for piano and orchestra to him. Rubinstein's repertoire included works by Chopin, Szymanowski, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Liszt, Ravel, Debussy, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Skriabin, Albeniz, and others.
He had a phenomenal musical memory, unlimited virtuosic capacity, and his playing was characterized by powerful fortes and a full and fruity sound. One can easily say that he charmed his audiences and listeners with his playing, providing them with many thrills.
He received the world's greatest medals and distinctions: Grand Officer of the French Legion of Honour; recipient of the Liberty Medal, also decorated with the ribbon of the Kennedy Center; Knight of the Officer's Cross of the Polonia Restituta Order, Knight Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic; recipient of Spain's Order of Alfonso X, Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and many, many more. He was a member of the French Academy, and the Kosciuszko Foundation in New York granted him a Medal of Recognition in 1957 for his contribution to Polish and American culture. He held honorary degrees from the greatest universities, including Yale University, the University of California, Columbia University, and also the Academy of Music in Warsaw. He was made a freeman of many cities around the world, released over 200 records, and the documentary about him directed by Frenchman François Reichenbach, ARTUR RUBINSTEIN - L'AMOUR DE LA VIE, won an Academy Award (1970). He was married to Aniela nee Mlynarska (daughter of the founder of the National Philharmonic in Warsaw, the great conductor Emil Mlynarski); they had four children: Ewa, Pawel, Alina and John, who live in the United States.
Artur Rubinstein will remain forever in Poles' memories also for his great gesture at the San Francisco Opera in 1945 at the inauguration of the United Nations. Seeing no Polish flag among those representing the nations gathered there after the end of World War II, the Maestro changed the programme of his recital. He started by saying a few words of displeasure at the absence of the Polish flag, and then announced he would begin by playing the national anthem of his country, and played the Polish anthem - DABROWSKI'S MAZURKA. Everybody stood up. After the anthem ended, the ovations were unbelievable. Rubinstein's conduct not only caused euphoria among the assembled company, but also won him the Poles' already great love and their hearts. For this deed, expatriate Poles ("on behalf of millions of Poles in the United States") awarded him a diploma of the Polish Arts League in Pittsburgh.
During both world wars, the Artist appeared in charity concerts for the benefit of Polish exiles, supported Polish people financially, and publicly encouraged the Americans to join World War II, always highlighting Poland's huge military effort.
Maestro Rubinstein was the Honorary Chairman of the jury at the 6th F. Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1960. Wherever he played, the concert halls were filled with music lovers. He performed for the last time in his home town of Lodz in 1975. The house of the Teatr Wielki was filled with music lovers from Poland and Europe; he was 88 at the time. Maestro left his fee for this concert in Lodz, to fund an annual prize for the musically most talented young Lodz resident.
He wrote two books of memoirs, others wrote several books about him, and many radio programmes and films were made about him and with him - all this provides excellent material for learning about him and for artists to follow his example, a stimulus to be active. The Lodz History Museum has a marvellous collection of mementoes of the Artist, forming the Artur Rubinstein Music Gallery.
The Lodz Philharmonic is named after him; piano competitions in his honour are organized all over the world, the largest being held every three years in Israel (The Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition). Bydgoszcz has an annual competition for young pianists named after him. The Artur Rubinstein Foundation, which submitted the present resolution, also has plans to hold an Artur Rubinstein International Music Festival every three years in Lodz.
The Polish Sejm's declaration of 2007 as the Year of Artur Rubinstein is an excellent means of popularising Polish culture as well as helping the city of Lodz (which Marshal Jozef Pilsudski, a freeman of the city, called "the capital city of Polish labour") to develop its image as not just an industrial city but also a city of culture, and stimulating greater interest in Polish music.