Homage to Paderewski

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Homage to Paderewski is an album of piano pieces by 17 composers, published in 1942 in honour of the Polish pianist, composer and statesman Ignacy Jan Paderewski.



Homage to Paderewski was commissioned by the music publisher Boosey & Hawkes in 1941 in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Paderewski's American debut in 1891. It was Zygmunt Stojowski who initiated the venture. He encouraged some composer friends of Paderewski's to write miniatures for the anniversary. However, Paderewski died on 29 June 1941, before the project was completed, and so the album, on its publication in 1942, became a posthumous tribute to his life and work.

Twenty-one composers submitted 22 works, and 17 were chosen for publication. Of these 17 composers, only three were native-born Americans. The remainder had either settled in North America or were working there temporarily (Benjamin Britten and Eugene Goossens were in the United States; Arthur Benjamin was in Canada).

Britten misunderstood the commission and wrote a piece for two pianos. It was published separately but is still considered a part of the overall homage. Béla Bartók did not write a new piece but provided a short suite of three pieces written in 1914–18. Jaromír Weinberger's contribution also seems to have been composed earlier, in 1924. Ernest Schelling, a student of Paderewski, had died in 1939, but his widow submitted a late untitled composition, in the belief that he would have wanted to be involved.

The pieces are all short, none taking more than four minutes to play and some just over one minute.

The premiere recording of the complete work was made in 2011 by Jonathan Plowright, with Aaron Shorr in the Britten piece.

The music

Béla Bartók Hungarian1881 1945Three Hungarian Folk-Tunes, Sz.66(1. Andante tranquillo, rubato; 2. Allegro non troppo, un poco rubato; 3. Maestoso.) Bartók was living in the US and hoped to return to his native Hungary at war's end, but died in New York City. These pieces dating from 1914 to 1918 take about a minute each and contain typically Hungarian characteristics such as modal melodies based on the Mixolydian and Dorian scales; and frequent melodic leaps of the fourth. It is hard to see how Bartók felt them to be relevant to the life and work of a Polish statesman and patriot.
Arthur Benjamin Australian1893 1960Elegiac MazurkaBenjamin had long been based in London but was currently working in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where he was the conductor of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Symphony Orchestra. The mazurka is a traditional Polish dance.
Benjamin Britten British1913 1976Mazurka elegiaca, Op. 23/2, for 2 pianosBritten misunderstood the commission and composed a work for two pianos. It was published separately. It was the second of two pieces within his Op. 23, the first being Introduction and Rondo alla burlesca (1940).
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco Italian1895 1968Hommage à PaderewskiCastelnuovo-Tedesco settled in California and became known as a film composer. Hommage à Paderewski is in the style of a mazurka.
Theodore Chanler American1902 1961Aftermath
Eugene Goossens British1892 1962HomageGoossens was working as conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Homage is based on Frédéric Chopin’s Prelude No. 20 in C minor (the "Chord Prelude")
Richard Hammond British1896 1980DanceHammond moved to the US during World War I, settling in Los Angeles. Dance is a rhythmic and exuberant work in mixed metres.
Felix Labunski Polish1892 1979 [1] ThrenodyLabunski migrated to America in 1936 and settled in Cincinnati. In 1928 Paderewski had funded the remainder of his studies in Paris with Paul Dukas and Nadia Boulanger. Labunski also dedicated a symphonic poem In memoriam to Paderewski.
Bohuslav Martinů Czech1890 1959Mazurka, H. 284Martinů arrived in America in 1941 and settled in New York, but returned to Europe in 1956. The Mazurka is in ABA form with the outer sections marked Moderato poco andante and the middle section marked Poco vivo.
Darius Milhaud French1892 1974ChoralMilhaud moved to the United States in 1940. Choral is in 5
time and the two hands play in different keys.
Joaquín Nin-Culmell Cuban1908 2004In memoriam PaderewskiNin-Culmell was born in Berlin of Cuban ancestry and moved to the United States in 1939. In Memoriam Paderewski is a mazurka, albeit with a Latin American flavour achieved through the use of syncopation in the latter half – the right hand plays in 3
while the left hand plays in 6
Karol Rathaus German1895 1954KujawiakRathaus was born in an area of the Austro-Hungarian Empire now in Ukraine. He trained in Berlin and Vienna, relocating to New York in 1938. The Kujawiak is a Polish dance in triple metre.
Vittorio Rieti Italian1898 1994Allegro danzanteRieti migrated to the United States in 1940 and settled in New York. The two-handed octaves in his piece evoke the spirit of Paderewski's own Caprice from his Humoresques de concert, Op 14.
Ernest Schelling American1876 1939Con tenerezzaSchelling was a student of Paderewski, who was greatly affected by his death in 1939. Schelling's widow submitted her husband's last composition, knowing that he would have wanted to share in any tribute to his mentor. In 1926 Schelling had written a nocturne titled Ragusa, dedicated "To my master, I. J. Paderewski". The dedicatee later recorded the piece himself.
Zygmunt Stojowski Polish1870 1946Cradle SongStojowski also studied with Paderewski. He moved to New York in 1905 to be on the founding faculty of the Institute of Musical Art. Cradle Song is a Spanish-American berceuse based on the lullaby Alarroro rito, which Stojowski learned from his Peruvian wife Luisa, whom he had met through Paderewski.
Jaromír Weinberger Czech1896 1967Étude in G majorWeinberger migrated to America in 1939. His Étude in G major, written in 1924, [2] is based on Z dymem pozarów (From the smoke of fires), a 19th-century Polish patriotic hymn. The same melody was used by Sir Edward Elgar in his symphonic prelude Polonia , dedicated to Paderewski during World War I.
Emerson Whithorne American1884 1958Hommage, Op. 58/2Whithorne studied piano in Europe with Paderewski's teacher Theodor Leschetizky. Most of Hommage is written on four staves, and marked Lento.

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  1. Cincinnati Libraries. Retrieved 16 April 2014
  2. Orel Foundation. Retrieved 16 April 2014