- Hardcover: 404 pages
- Publisher: C. Scribner's Sons (1938)
- ASIN: B000857SLQ
- Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.6 x 1.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,898,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Paderewski Memoirs Hardcover – 1938
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Top Customer Reviews
Paderewski powerfully moves his narrative forward with a clear sense of direction. It is evident that he is aware of his role as a performer in writing this book, for he entertains the reader with humorous and sentimental vignettes that are not essential to the story of his life but nevertheless reveal the charm of his personality.
This book is not a tell-all autobiography of the sort sometimes churned out by celebrities in our age. His narrative stops on the eve of the first World War, and what we lose are his recounting of his role as representative of Poland at the Treaty of Versailles and his subsequent presidency of the newly restarted independent state of Poland. This break of the narrative is not accidental, for his term as president ended abruptly in what amounted his ouster by political rivals. Paderewski left Poland humiliated and bitter, never to return, and it is apparent that the memory was too harsh even for recounting years later. This is unfortunate for we lose his perspective on these events.
Paderewski was a very shrewd observer of fellow pianists as well as the leading theatrical performers of his era, and his remembrance of giants such as Anton Rubinstein, von Bulow, Mark Twain, Sarah Bernhardt, Saint-Saens, all of whom he knew personally, are vivid and rich with insight and make highly engaging reading. One leaves the book with a vivid sense of the Belle Époque, an era in which Paderewski was a legend in his own time - his genius as a charismatic performer established a head-liner career that extended until his death in 1941.
Music was always a large part of the Paderewski family: "My sister Antonina was then about eight years old. She always played the treble, and I, as you know, the bass, and sometimes our performances were very exciting, especially when we fought each other with our elbows, which we generally did very vigorously, accompanied by sudden little kicks as well. In fact our duet playing was very often more acrobatic than musical!" (pp. 15-16).
The author recounts other aspects of his boyhood. The little Ignace taught himself to play piano as a toddler, once tricked his father into believing that the French were defeating the hated Prussians in the Franco-Prussian War, and escaped serious injury when he was kicked in the stomach by a beloved horse (for no apparent reason) which he had just fed, rendering the boy unconscious.
According to Paderewski, the different groups living in Podolia lived amiably together. However, the policy of DIVIDE ET IMPERA, practiced by tsarist Russia, eventually pitted serfs against landowners (p. 3), Ukrainians against Poles (p.7), and Jews against Poles. (p. 384). In fact, Polish landowners, of whom Paderewski's father was one, were forbidden from emancipating their serfs until this became policy in the Russian Empire in 1861. (p. 3).
During Paderewski's boyhood in the late 19th-century, the Jews still wore their traditional garb.Read more ›