A Steinway or nothing for Paderewski at the Columbian Exposition in 1893


Paderewski's Suite in the Polish Museum of America

"The World's Fair (Columbian Exposition) was opening in a week. Chicago and the nation were ready. But now, there was a good chance that the musical headliner would not perform," relates John R. Schmidt in a story on Chicago Now. The thirty-two year old musician was pianist Ignace Jan Paderewski (1860-1941).

Paderewski agreed to perform without pay on a Steinway piano. The Fair's bureaucrats objected because Steinway was not an exhibitor in the Fair. They said that he must play on an "official" piano. Paderewski, committed to Steinway, said, in essence...no Steinway...no concert. He performed on a Steinway.

Paderewski had close ties to Chicago and later in his life to Wicker Park. It was through the efforts of Pierce Ave. resident John Smulski, exiled heads of the Polish government  and Paderewski that the National Committee was formed in 1915 and was headquartered in Smulski's home.

"The efforts of the National Committee were most helpful in Paderewski's efforts to be elected the Premier of Poland in 1919, the first democratically elected head of Poland. He held that position for a year."*

The Polish Museum of America (PMA) is home to a magnificent Paderewski room  filled with information, furniture, music and memorabilia.

*Wicker Park From 1673 Thru 1929 and Walking Tour Guide

For more information: Paderewski in concert at PMA; Paderewski plays Chopin; Chopin Polonaise in A Flat




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