TODAY is the birthdate of Ignacy Jan Paderewski, concert pianist, composer and the first prime minister of Poland (1919-20)
Paderewski was more than a great pianist; he was a mass-market wonder who inspired ad campaigns for shampoos, candy, soaps and party treats, even a windup toy of a little man frenetically pounding his little piano.
He is still remembered for his famous epigram about diligence: “If I don’t practice for one day, I know it; if I don’t practice for two days, the critics know it; if I don’t practice for three days, the audience knows it.”
Paderewski was a popular speaker who was renowned for his wit, and was often quoted. He was once introduced to a polo player with the words: “You are both leaders in your spheres, though the spheres are very different.” “Not so very different,” Paderewski replied. “You are a dear soul who plays polo, and I am a poor Pole who plays solo.”
In another incident, Paderewski once recalled, “I established a certain standard of behaviour, that, during my playing, there must be no talking. When they began to talk, I would stop. I would say, ‘I am sorry to interrupt your conversation. I deeply regret that I am obliged to disturb you, so I am going to stop for a while to allow you to continue talking.’ You can imagine the effect it had…”
Here’s a rare filmed live performance of the man in action