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Between Romanticism and Modernism

Ignacy Jan Paderewski’s Compositional Œuvre

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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 6: Aesthetics

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Chapter 6:Aesthetics

6.1Views on art

Scholars have previously referred to the strand of music theory in Paderewski’s work with deliberate restraint as ‘thinking on art’ or ‘aesthetic views’.427 That work, scattered mainly among letters and isolated statements on the pages of his Memoirs, does not constitute a coherent aesthetic doctrine in terms of either a particular system or the level of interpretation afforded the subject. It consists mainly of unconnected opinions. Judging by the form of utterance, the distance in time with respect to the artistic facts discussed and the composer’s personality, they were furnished with a sort of poetic licence. Consequently, that material cannot be attributed the character of an ‘aesthetic’; it is too loosely linked to his artistic work. Nevertheless, through the process of its exegesis, it turns out that it may form much more essential information than the terse and unordered opinions that it appears to represent at first glance. It is not a question of implying any aesthetic system, but of seeking the aesthetic foundations for the opinions expressed and their connections with his compositional output. Paderewski’s personality and the historical-cultural atmosphere of the epoch shaped his thinking about music, which was articulated throughout his life in forms and content that elude academic categories. Given the dearth of sources on Paderewski’s aesthetic thinking, some satisfaction can be derived even from information resulting from circumstantial research based on accounts from the composer and those nearest to him.

In his reflections,...

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