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The Polish Musician in Philadelphia
by Paul Krzywicki
ISBN 9781483442679From Penderecki to Paderewski by Paul Krzywicki
396 pp.; Perfect-bound, Pb.
6 wide x 9 tall
Includes pronunciation guide
Available from

In the 1870s, when Europe’s most acclaimed Polish musicians began arriving in America to perform, no one could have predicted their historic impact on America as performers, teachers, and directors. Nowhere was the importance of the Polish artist more significant than in Philadelphia, where the foundation of two of the world’s leading musical and educational institutions — the Curtis Institute of Music and the Philadelphia Orchestra — would be unthinkable without their inspiration.

Jˇzef Hofmann (“arguably the greatest pianist of the twentieth century”), Marcella Sembrich Kochańska (“the best loved singer known to New York”), and Leopold Stokowski (who created “the finest orchestra the world has ever heard”), drew the world’s attention to America, and put Philadelphia on the map. Soon Landowska, Rodzinski, Lambert, Rosenthal, and Mlynarski arrived. Artists and students now had Philadelphia as a destination.

Their friend, pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski, became “the greatest drawing card in American musical history,” and his relationship with America’s twenty-eighth president, Woodrow Wilson, changed the map of Europe.

Audiences throughout this country clamored to hear these exotic musicians. They became America’s favorites, and they performed for no less than nine U.S. presidents. Many made this new country their home. Some stayed in Philadelphia; many escaped the foreign occupation of their country; others endured and — sadly —others perished in the two great World Wars and the horrors of the Holocaust.

Their influence stands today as a testament to their talent. Jean de Reszke (who appeared frequently in Philadelphia with his brother, the great basso ╔douard) was called “the greatest operatic tenor of the last century.” The Opera News declared a new “Golden Age of Polish Singing” with the worldwide emergence of Kwiecień, Szot, Beczała, Dobber, Kulczak, Pieczonka , Kurzak, and Majeski, all regulars in America. Two of the last four Gilmore Artist Awards, worth $300,000 each, were given to pianists Piotr Anderszewski and Rafał Blechacz, and no pianist has had more appearances in Philadelphia than Emanuel Ax.

About the author: Paul Krzywicki was a principal player with the Philadelphia Orchestra for thirty-three years and presents one hundred and seventy biographies and photos intermingled with related historical information to fully appreciate these artists’ accomplishments.

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