Long-time PMC partners at the Head Office of the State Archives (NDAP) organized an impressive and successful celebration of Ignacy Jan Paderewski’s centennial as Poland’s political leader. The opening was held November 18-20 under the title “Paderewski—król pianistów w świecie polityki” [Paderewski—the King of Pianists in a World of Politics] at Warsaw’s Hotel Bristol—a property developed and once owned by Paderewski. This three-day conference also included two concerts that accompanied the celebrations as well as the official unveiling of an exhibit at the Koszykowa branch of Warsaw Public Library.

Conference and Concerts

The festivities opened on Monday, November 18 with a theatrical presentation by students from the Paderewski middle school in Julin, near Warsaw. Adam Zamoyski, author of many books on Polish and European history and one of Paderewski’s biographers, delivered the opening lecture.

Notable guests present that evening included Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture, Piotr Gliński, Director of State Archives, Dr. Paweł Pietrzyk, ambassadors of France, Switzerland and Vatican as well as the Cultural Attaché from the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw.

Following the official opening of the conference, the Primuz String Quartet and mezzo-soprano Aneta Łukaszewicz presented a selection of Paderewski’s songs to texts by Catulle Mendès. Pianist and composer Krzesimir Dębski, well known for his prolific symphonic, chamber and film music scores, directed the entire ensemble. A very enthusiastic reception of the program by the audience led to an encore—one of the hit songs from Dębski’s many film soundtracks.

The following day, November 19, the Paderewski Conference began with presentations on Paderewski’s role in Poland’s modern history. The lecturers included Professors Marek Drozdowski, Maciej Kledzik, Tomasz Schramm, Damian Szymczak, and Drs. Iwona Fischer, Anna Krochmal, Xymena Pilch-Nowakowska and Monika Płuciennik. Marek Zebrowski performed a recital of piano works by Paderewski and Chopin and later spoke about Paderewski as a pianist.

The last day of the conference dealt with a wide range of other Paderewski-related topics, covering the history of his properties in Poland, Switzerland and California and documents relating to Paderewski’s life held by various institutions across the world. In connection with these subjects, issues connected to cataloguing, digitizing and preserving these records were also discussed. Presenters included Drs. Adam Dąbrowski, Elwira Gilewicz, Robert Górski, Irena Kopoć and Franciszek Pulit, as well as Professors Jolanta Abramczyk, Wojciech Barcikowski, Anna Czajka, Jolanta Leśniewska, Monika Mandau, Małgorzata Pinker, Małgorzata Siuchta, Justyna Szombara, Edyta Targońska, Agnieszka Wojciechowska, and Marek Zebrowski.

The imposing scope of scholarship presented at this gathering will be reflected in the proceeds from the conference that will be published by the State Archives during the coming year.


Another significant item on the program was the official unveiling of the Paderewski Exhibit at the Koszykowa Branch of Warsaw Public Library on November 19. After introductory remarks by Drs. Paweł Pietrzyk and Anna Krochmal (pictured below), the scholars and the public were given a tour with running commentary provided by. Dr. Krochmal. Beautifully laid out and designed on tall, square columns, the exhibit features rarely seen photos, documents and museum quality objects from over 20 Paderewski collections all across the world, including the PMC’s Paderewski Archive – the Paso Robles Collection. This exhibit will remain on display until late January 2020.

To accompany the conference, the Head Office of State Archives also produced a richly illustrated exhibit catalogue and a very elegant, clothbound 2020 calendar filled with information and facts from Paderewski’s life for almost every day in the coming year. The conference and the exhibit were extensively covered by local media and attended by a number of interested scholars and researchers. It was a very grand and fitting commemoration of Paderewski’s year at the helm of the newly independent nation.

[Sources: pl.ambafrance.org, dzieje.pl, archiwa.gov.pl, pl.usembassy.gov]