In his 1982 book “Paderewski”, the acclaimed historian, Count Adam Zamoyski, said that people who met the late Polish composer, Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860 – 1941) often felt that they were “in the presence of an altogether superior being.” The time being the early twentieth century and not the middle ages, however, Ignacy was seen as a genius not a saint.
Paderewski was a veritable superstar of his time. Christopher Onzol of the Paderewski Music Society wrote that in 1896, “Paddy-mania” in the East Coast and Central United States was such that thousands of people flocked to listen to Paderewski’s recitals of his Minuet in g-minor, Op. 1 no. 2, or Danses polonaises, Op. 5.
The US public’s veneration for the European pianist Ignacy Paderewski seems to have some parallelism with a later group of musicians who were also from across the pond in the fact that women loved Paderewski, children played with toys inspired by the pianist-composer, and men actually copied his haircut. Years later, in the 1960s a quartet of Liverpudlians will be embraced with the same frenzy all over the world.
It should be said that Ignacy Paderewski wasn’t just a prodigious musician. He was also a respected statesman who served as Poland’s Prime Minister and participated in philanthropic endeavors.
Paderewski was known for extending financial support to young musicians, students, orphanages, and veterans. He also backed efforts to liberate and resurrect his home country of Poland, which led to him being considered as a “tireless champion of liberty”.
In that same book, Zamoyski says that Paderewski “was propelled into public life not by political, religious or even national party or interest, but by a very personal urge to do good and redress wrong.”
These accomplishments in the realms of music and philanthropy are exactly what the aforementioned Paderwski Music Society, wishes to uphold. To quote the society’s president, Christopher Onzol : “Our mission is to study, preserve, and promote Ignacy Paderewski’s rich and everlasting legacy. All work is done as an act of good will, in memory of one of the greatest Poles, Ignacy Paderewski, and to the benefit of all lovers of classical piano.”
The organization, which makes its home in Canoga Park, California, is a 501(c)(3) charitable, non-profit group found by an eclectic mix of people – professional pianists, musicians, actors, and educators who all appreciate Ignacy Paderewski’s work.
According to Chris Onzol, they initially found that even with professional help, applying for a non-profit status would take them about 2-3 years and cost them an excess of $5000. Luckily, as they were losing hope, they came across the Encino-based company Legal Filings, who was able do the job at a fraction of the cost, and in only six months. Finally, the Paderewski Music Society was able to start holding their concerts, lectures, masterclasses, and competitions, most notably the American Paderewski Piano Competition.
The said contest was first opened just this year to pianists of any nationality between the ages 16 and 32. All participants were required to play mandatory pieces by Ignacio Paderewski along with a free choice of repertoire as long as it met the time lime limit. The competition, which was held on May 26-29 of this year at The Colburn School Conservatory of Music, Los Angeles, was won by Piotr Kosinski. The 21-year old Pole went home with $5000 and an opportunity to be presented in concerts in California and Poland for the 2010-2011 season.
As a musically-rooted organization, the Paderewski Society of Music also holds events like the recent concert to commemorate Frederic Chopin’s 200th Birthday Celebration on February 27, 2010. Chopin’s birthday was remembered with performances by Wojciech Kocycan, Alexander Suleiman and John Perry. Poetry about the lauded composer was read by actress and Paderewski Society of Music board member, Jane Kaczmarek.
Coming up on November 6th, 2010, on the other hand, is the 150th Birthday Concert for Ignacy Jan Paderewski, which the late composer’s admirers can learn about by reading the Paderewski Society of Music’s website.
The Paderewski Society of Music also releases CDs, DVDs and publications. Their first release is the Chopin Bicentential Concert, which is a recording of their February 27, 2010 event at the Zipper Concert Hall. Performers were Jane Kaczmarek, Wojciech Kocycan, Alexander Suleiman, John Perry, Michael and Priscilla Pawlicki, Francoise Regnat, and Charles Fiero.
To learn even more about the Paderewski Society of Music’s efforts towards spreading Ignacio Jan Paderewski’s legacy of art and altruism, people can look for the group’s various marketing collaterals like business cards, folders, brochures, canvas prints, posters, and postcard which were printed by UPrinting.
Chairman of the Board Christopher Onzol says about his printing experience, “we are happy with the quality, turnaround time, and pricing; and we have recommended UPrinting’s services to others.”
Arthur Piccio is a feature writer and subject matter expert for theUPrinting Blog.