Ignacy Jan Paderewski was one of the most important figures connecting Poland and the United States. He was a pianist, composer, diplomat, and statesman. With thousands of concerts all over the world, including 1,500 in the United States alone, Paderewski achieved the status of the most popular and admired pianist of his time. He was famous for his renditions of Bach and Beethoven but above all he was the most masterful interpreter of Frederic Chopin’s music.
Paderewski was born in 1860 in the village of Kuryłówka in the province of Podolia, then under the control of the Russian Empire (present day Ukraine). He studied music from early childhood. He first worked under the supervision of a private tutor; in 1872 he moved to Warsaw to enter the Warsaw Conservatorium. At the beginning of the 1880s he traveled to Berlin and Vienna to study music with Friedrich Kiel, Heinrich Urban, and Teodor Leszetycki. He became an overnight success with his first concerts in England, France, and the United States and the most popular pianist in a time where solo recitals were still a very new form of artistic expression. During his first years in America, Paderewski also established links with Western New York. On January 12th and February 13th, 1892 he gave two successful concerts in Buffalo. His popularity was not only a result of his virtuosity but also his magnetic personality. He was also the first pianist to give a solo recital in the newly built Carnegie Hall in New York City. Almost 3,000 people attended the concert that was only one of many that attracted crowds previously unknown at classical music events. click here to read more about Paderewski.