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Ignacy Jan Paderewski

(1860—1941) Polish pianist, composer, and statesman, Prime Minister 1919

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Polish pianist, composer, and statesman. Briefly prime minister of Poland, he was acknowled as the finest pianist of his time. His many honours included the Grand Cross of the Légion d'honneur.

Paderewski studied and taught at the Warsaw Conservatory (1872–84) before going to Vienna for further piano study with Theodor Leschetizky (1830–1915). Between 1887 and 1891 he made his first public appearances as a pianist and received critical acclaim, most notably from George Bernard Shaw. He played in London and New York (1890) and then toured South America, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. In 1889 he settled in Switzerland, where he composed his opera Manru (1901). Appointed director of the Warsaw Conservatory in 1909, he raised money for Polish war victims throughout World War I.

In 1918 he gave up music and served as the Polish representative in Washington. The following year he was elected prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, so becoming Poland's signatory to the Treaty of Versailles. Resigning after ten months in office, he returned to concert tours, composition, and the editing of Chopin's works. In 1939 he served briefly as head of the Polish government in exile before emigrating to the USA. Upon his death, he was given a state burial by order of President Roosevelt. Of his compositions, only the Minuet in G and the piano concerto are still performed.

Subjects: Music

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