Paderewski – The Modern Immortal

Exhibit Opening & Reception

Thursday, November 4, 2010 | 6:00 p.m.
Treasure Room, Doheny Memorial Library, USC (see DML on campus map)
3550 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0185
Reception to follow the concert

From November 2010 PMC Newsletter

Several events commemorating Paderewski’s 150th birthday anniversary were held on November 4-5, 2010 at the University of Southern California. Together with the USC Libraries, the Polish Music Center in the Thornton School of Music prepared an exhibit of Paderewski’s memorabilia. Entitled “Paderewski: The Modern Immortal,” it was officially opened by Catherine Quinlan, Dean of the USC Libraries, on November 4 at 5:30 p.m. Organized around the topics including Paderewski’s life in music, political career, links to California, and private life, the exhibit also features a short display on Poland’s history and Paderewski’s impact on popular culture. Many extraordinarily rare and never-before seen items—including personal possessions, correspondence, photographs, and Paderewski’s concert programs—are on display in the Treasure Room of Doheny Library until May 31, 2011.

Paderewski Celebrated In California

From December 2010 PMC Newsletter

The Paderewski at 150 Celebration began with the festive opening of “Paderewski: The Modern Immortal,” an exhibit of memorabilia on display at the Treasure Room of the Doheny Memorial Library on the USC Campus in Los Angeles. Arranged by themes—Life in Music, Career in Politics, California Connections, Private Life, and In the Public Eye—the USC exhibit features original documents, correspondence, photographs, and many extremely rare personal items that belonged to Paderewski and his wife, Helena, and are now part of the Polish Music Center’s Paso Robles Collection. Dean Catherine Quinlan of the USC Libraries officially opened the exhibit on Thursday, November 4 and it will run through May 31, 2011.

Dr. Małgorzata Perkowska-Waszek, PMC Director Marek Zebrowski, and USC Libraries Dean Catherine Quinlan. Photo courtesy of USC Libraries

Paderewski: The Modern Immortal

From February 2011 PMC Newsletter

by Marek Zebrowski

The year 2010 was most notable—at least in terms of musical anniversaries—in celebrating the bicentennial of Chopin’s birth. A great deal of concerts, exhibits, special events and, as if on cue, the International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw was held in 2010 as well.

Another, much less celebrated anniversary—the sesquicentennial of Ignacy Jan Paderewski’s birth—had passed around the world with much less fanfare. Yes, there was the triennial International Paderewski Piano Competition (held in a more modest surroundings of Bydgoszcz, Poland) and its associated American Paderewski Piano Competition in Los Angeles, a few concerts in Poland and the United States specifically dedicated to celebrating Paderewski (including the Paderewski at 150 events at USC and in Paso Robles), but nothing quite on the scale and scope of the “Chopin Year” of 2010.

Does Paderewski merit as much attention as Chopin? This question would have been rhetorical half a century ago, when Paderewski was among the most recognized names in the world. Not only was he the first of truly epic virtuosos of the modern age and the one who toured the world over, but he was also a skilled and influential politician with unprecedented achievements in the history of his native Poland and—last but not least—one of the greatest living philanthropists and humanitarians.

The distinction of being hailed a “modern immortal” applied to Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941) well before his retirement age reflected an undisputed recognition of his truly historic contributions to the betterment of mankind. As a pianist, composer, Poland’s Prime Minister and later top diplomat at the League of Nations, Paderewski became a revered celebrity, who appeared twice on the cover of Time Magazine. On both occasions his likeness was modeled on the nineteenth century portraits of that other “great immortal,” Ludwig van Beethoven.

Such universal respect was truly unprecedented in Paderewski’s day and it certainly merited a celebration on the occasion of the sesquicentennial anniversary of his birth in 2010. Paderewski’s artistic and civic accomplishments were recognized with an honorary doctorate by the University of Southern California already in 1923. Since 2007 Paderewski’s monument became a fixture at the Thornton School of Music—the unveiling ceremony is pictured above. A year later a treasure trove of rare Paderewski memorabilia was donated to the Polish Music Center at USC.

A scintillating sample of this collection in now on display at the Treasure Room of Doheny Library on the USC campus. Entitled “Paderewski: The Modern Immortal,” the exhibit follows several themes that dominated Paderewski’s life, including the history of Poland, Paderewski’s musical activities, career in politics, connections to the State of California, and family life—to learn more about these themes, read more here. The inside look at Paderewski’s personal life and public activities at the Doheny Library will hopefully expand and deepen each visitor’s understanding of Paderewski’s life as an artist, public person, and a private individual. The organizers hope that this exhibit not only shines a light upon heretofore unknown aspects of this great man and his accomplishments, but will also lead to new insights into the phenomenon of immortality in modern times. The exhibit runs through May 31, 2011, and the admission is free.


Paderewski Exhibit Finale

From May 2011 PMC Newsletter
By Marek Zebrowski

The “Paderewski – The Modern Immortal” exhibit at USC’s Doheny Library is going into its finals weeks. The exhibit’s festive opening—hosted by USC Dean of Libraries, Catherine Quinlan, on November 4, 2010—coincided with the sesquicentennial of Paderewski’s birth and launched a variety of events in Los Angeles and Paso Robles commemorating this great Polish pianist, composer, patriot, politician and humanitarian. Its closing on May 31, 2011, just a few weeks before Paderewski’s 70th death anniversary on June 29, will round off the Paderewski Year at the University of Southern California.

Organized around topics including Paderewski’s life in music, political career, links to California, and private life, the exhibit also features a short display on Poland’s history and Paderewski’s impact on popular culture. Many extraordinarily rare and never-before seen items—including personal possessions, correspondence, photographs, and Paderewski’s concert programs that are on exhibit—have been culled from the Paso Robles Collection held by the Polish Music Center at USC.

Read the latest review of the exhibit, written by public diplomacy scholar Paul Rockower, at

Violinist Jerzy Milewski and his wife, Aleida Schweitzer, were the most recent visitors to the Paderewski exhibit at USC. This Rio de Janeiro-based duet came to perform in several different venues in California during the second half of April. Like many others who saw the exhibit, the Milewski Duo were impressed by the sheer range of documents and the scope of artistic, political, and business enterprises that Paderewski handled so adroitly throughout his life. The musicians also visited the Paderewski monument that, since 2007, has graced the grounds of USC’s Thornton School of Music.

USC’s “Paderewski – The Modern Immortal” exhibit is scheduled to travel next to Paso Robles, where it will be on display at the Pioneer Museum during the 2011 Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles. This year’s Festival will be held November 10-13 in various venues around this charming Central Coast town that served as Paderewski’s American pied-à-terre for twenty-five years. Further plans for the exhibit, including showing it in Poland, are currently being considered.

“Paderewski – The Modern Immortal” is free and open to the public during library hours through May 2011 (for summer library hours, see