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Between Romanticism and Modernism

Ignacy Jan Paderewski’s Compositional Œuvre


Boguslaw Raba

This is the first monograph on the Polish composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860–1941). It aspires to be part of the process of restoring his compositional legacy to European musical culture. Reinterpreting the legend surrounding the great Pole, the study is based on Paderewskis works that are listed in the Paderewski catalogue, but also includes sketches, unfinished pieces and student exercises. Raba’s analysis and interpretation of the composer’s work is carried out in formal-structural, stylistic-critical and aesthetic contexts, revising the image of the composer, that has been distorted in the historical reception of his œuvre.
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Chapter 1


Work and Oeuvre

I make no appeal for Paderewski’s music. This music speaks for itself. This music will successfully meet every test of time.5

Ignacy Jan Paderewski: an outstanding figure; a symbol embodying supreme values. The reception of his multi-faceted work was marked from the very beginning by an almost pious veneration and a metaphysical aura. His extraordinary personality, range of activities and noble attitude are a constant source of fascination, arousing respect and admiration, as expressed in the fact that he is frequently numbered among the most outstanding sons of the nation: ‘Poland has just three sons to whom it owes the most. The first is Chopin, the third John Paul II, and the second Ignacy Jan Paderewski’.6 The countless legends and accounts, marked with an air of extraordinariness, situating Paderewski among the ranks of prophets7 are not just an expression of the emphatic hysteria of a past era; they attest the status ascribed to the outstanding personalities, their life’s work interpreted between scientifically observable and super-discursive reality, veiled in an aura of mystery. Around the turn of the twentieth century, the word ‘bard’ was used for three musicians, Chopin, Paderewski and Wagner, artists who in the Polish reception of their work had ‘shifted the earth from its foundations’. It is hard to resist the impression that a peculiar genius loci et temporis set Paderewski on the path to realising the most noble ideas and values, crowned by his service to society and...

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