Academic journal article Fontes Artis Musicae

The Collection of Musical Manuscripts in I.J. Paderewski's Personal Library

Academic journal article Fontes Artis Musicae

The Collection of Musical Manuscripts in I.J. Paderewski's Personal Library

Article excerpt


The Center for the Documentation of 19th- and 20th-Century Polish Music (at the Institute of Musicology, Jagiellonian University, in Krakow) (2) holds the private library of Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941)--the outstanding Polish pianist, composer and statesman. Born in the village of Kurylowka in the Podolia Governorate (3), from his early childhood Paderewski manifested an exceptional aptitude and gift for music. A few years after graduating from the Music Institute in Warsaw, he travelled to Berlin to perfect his knowledge of composition under Friedrich Kiel (in 1882) and Heinrich Urban (in 1884). Then he moved to Vienna to complete his piano studies under Theodor Leschetizky--one of Europe's leading piano teachers. At the turn of the 19th century, Paderewski's name became well known in the world and was synonymous with highest level of piano virtuosity. Although Paderewski was primarily regarded as the greatest pianist of his time, he was also a world-stage politician. After the end of the World War I, he served as both the Prime Minister of the Polish government, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Hailed as a living legend, a 'modern immortal' (as Franklin D. Roosevelt called him), Paderewski devoted his life and fortune to serving his country.

Paderewski's personal library constitutes an interesting object of study and analysis. It reveals not only the diversity of artist's cultural, historical and professional interests but also provides valuable information about his connections with people significant to the worlds of art, literature, science and politics.

Before moving on to the subject specified in the title of this paper, a few words should be given about Paderewski's collection in general. The artist's personal library comprises more than 8,000 items, including books, music prints, and other archives such as manuscripts, photographs, and letters (4). The book set ranges from works of fine literature, historical studies, monographs on composers, politicians and military commanders, philosophical and theological works, travel books to encyclopedias, lexicons, dictionaries, manuals and also music and historical periodicals. Many of his books, as one could expect, are in Polish, but Paderewski, a well-known polyglot, also collected books in English, French, German, Russian, and Italian (5). The collection of music prints includes scores and orchestral parts or piano extracts from well-known operas as well as symphonic works. However, for obvious reasons, the piano literature predominates in the music set. There is also an almost complete printed collection of Paderewski's own works (6).

History of the Collection

Until 1940 the library was located in Paderewski's Swiss residence, Riond-Bosson, on the outskirts of Morges (7).

In September that year, when the artist left Switzerland and set off on his last journey to the United States (8), all the furniture and the house equipment, including objects of art and an excellent collection of silverware and porcelain, as well as the library, had been deposited in the warehouse of Lavanchy Company in Lausanne, where it remained for several years. Paderewski died at the end of June 1941 just a few months after moving to the United States. Nevertheless, it took about 8 years before his last will and testament was discovered at Morgan's Bank in Paris. When the will was opened, it was found that the Jagiellonian University was the main beneficiary of Paderewski's estate (9). The following words appears in the document:

   I consider this money to be the property of the [Polish] nation and
   that is why I would like it to be donated to the Jagiellonian
   University in Krakow.

One may wonder why Paderewski bequeathed his estate to this particular University. The answer seems to be found in Paderewski Memoirs, where the artist confessed that he had a special relationship with the city of Krakow:

   Cracow is a university town. … 
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