How the first big-celebrity-turned-big-politican helped resurrect an entire country
In 1863, the 3-year-old Ignacy Jan Paderewski probably wasn’t aware that his fellow Polish countrymen were in the midst of a doomed uprising against the autocratic ruler of his homeland. But he definitely knew something was wrong when Russian Tsarist police arrested his father, dragging him away while the young Ignacy tried to stop them.
As a young man, Paderewski was determined to do something about his country's plight. It had been completely wiped off the map almost a century earlier, and as the 19th century came to a close, an independent Poland seemed impossible. Using rifles and sabres to win freedom clearly wasn’t going to be enough. A different kind of weapon had to be found.
For Paderewski, this weapon would be music...
This episode was produced with the help of the National Museum in Warsaw.
[00:28] The many stories about Paderewski we don't tell
[01:36] Historical backdrop
[03:48] Paderewski chooses music as his weapon of choice...
[06:57] ...and becomes a superstar...
[11:29] ...only to turn into a politician
[15:04] World War I
[21:50] Paderewski puts Poland back on the map...
[23:36] ...and returns to music!
[25:17] Thanks & credits
Marek Żebrowski / for sharing with us his extensive expertise on Paderewski, and even playing Paderewski’s pieces for us on the piano. Marek is a concert pianist and composer, as well as director of the Polish Music Center at USC Thornton School of Music. He is also director of the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles, California,
Adam Zamoyski / for telling us about how Paderewski rose to become a world-famous pianist and the first prime minister of a newly-independent Poland. He is a London-based historian and best-selling author.
Nelson Goerner / for agreeing to talk to us about Paderewski as a performer and composer. Nelson is a renowned Argentinian concert pianist. In 2015, he recorded Paderewski’s piano concerto with the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra.
The National Museum in Warsaw / our partner for this episode, for their knowledge, support and co-operation, especially Ewa Drygalska & Magdalena Pinker.
Eliza Rose & Nial Morgan / for tape-syncing the interview with Marek Żebrowski at his LA home 9 timezones away.