Two Brits to bring Paderewski back to life in Polish Museum on Sunday


Cover for the 150th Anniversary of Paderewski's birthday.


Blending modern technology with old, the two British co-founders of the Pianola Institute will bring Ignancy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941) back to life thru his musical performances via a 1925 Steinway Duo-art reproducing concert grand piano.  In memory of the late Polish President, Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria, the selections to be performed will include pieces by Chopin, Schubert, Liszt, Debussy and Schelling as well as Paderewski .  The two hour concert is on May 16 beginning at 2 p.m. in the Polish Museum of America, 984 N. Milwaukee Avenue.

Pianola Institute's Denis Hall and Rex Lawson will provide a narration throughout the program. In addition, they will have a photo presentation during intermission.  Their pianola presentations world-wide are in keeping with the purpose of their London based institute.  That is to put on concerts and encourage people to consider pianola performances as serious musical events.


This is one of the rolls which permits a performance to be heard as played.

Paderewski was a composer, pianist and Polish diplomat. In 1919 he served as the first democratically elected Premier of a free Poland due in part to the efforts of the National Committee which was based in Wicker Park between 1916 and 1919.*  His musical accomplishments included both composing and performing.  His primary recordings on the reproducing piano which began in 1922 and ended in about 1930, occurred after he returned to his musical career.


Hall (L) and Lawson (R) at kiosk type screen where Kujawa points out Paderewski's music score notations as the music plays.

Hall, Lawson and Richard Kujawa, Operation Manager for the Polish Museum of America, all agree that his major talent was that of performer.  "He knew how to thrill people.  He played with emotion and passion," explains Kujawa.  "He connected with the audience and could sense how and what to present to a specific audience in a specific venue.  I think that is what made him a good orator too."


In the Paderewski Room, Denis Hall comments on Paderewski's performances.

"I find that his interpretations are very sound, well thought out and, no matter how long you listen, you never get bored," Hall adds.  Lawson agrees with Hall about Paderewski being musically right.

"Paderewski was the highest paid, most famous pianist of all time," Lawson continued. "You have to have a driven determination to get to that level."


Rex Lawson is animate about a need for people to understand the importance of experiencing pianola events.

"Yes, he carefully choreographed his persona, being careful to always appear very serious in public," further explained Kujawa.

The piano that will be used is owned by Jim Edwards, a Chicago area music reviewer, who purchased the instrument approximately twenty years ago .  It had been owned by the Curtis Institute of Music, the famous Jozef Kazimierz Hofmann directed music in the school until 1938. Since obtaining the piano, Edwards has had many professionals work on perfecting it, including Hall and Lawson. "It is in wonderful condition for this show."

"This concert is going to be an experience of a life time," assures Kujawa. Edwards emphasizes that by saying that this will be the last Chicago concert for this piano.


Two CD Set created by the Pianola Institute of Paderewski's performances are available in the Museum Shop.

Tickets are $15 for General Seating. VIP Seating which includes a pre-concert privately conducted tour of the newly renovated Paderewski Room is sold out.  Reservations are recommended for General Seating. Call 773.384.3352 or go to the Museum's website.


*Wicker Park From 1673 Thru 1929 and Walking Tour Guide



For more information: Pianolas; Jozef Hofmann and Curtis Institute




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