Paderewski: The Polish Elvis

By Roy Purdy

Polish influence in Chicago has a history going back 150 years. Ignacy Jan Paderewski was a Polish politician as well as an accomplished pianist.

He was born on November 6, 1860 and died June 29, 1941.

He was a member of the Polish National Committee in Paris, and soon became representative of the organization.

He played an important role in getting Poland its independence. He signed the treaty of Versailles.

IMG_3397Paderewski was a supporter of the Polish Museum of America. He has a whole section in the Museum dedicated to him. In this section, the actual hotel room that he died in is preserved. The Polish Museum helps keep his long lasting legacy alive.

In 1922, he retired from politics to focus on composing music. He was tremendously famous for his piano playing abilities. He toured the world playing at big concert venues.

“He was the first musician to perform at Madison Square Garden,” said Adam Aksnowicz, 22, tour guide at the Polish Museum of America.

His last composition lasted an astounding 75 minutes.

His life may be over, but his music lives on.

“Paderewski’s fame was equivalent to that of Elvis Presley,” Aksnowicz said.

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