Musical based on Paderewski's life performed in New York

Parts of the musical 'Blacksmith', inspired by the life of Ignacy Jan Paderewski, a renowned Polish composer, pianist and statesman, an icon of Polish independence, were performed in New York's Public Space in Manhattan on Thursday.

Thursday's presentation was part of a competition for a musical piece about Paderewski on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Poland's regaining independence. The aim of the organisers was to raise interest in Paderewski among Americans. His personal contacts with Former American President Woodrow Wilson contributed to Poland's inclusion in the 13th point of his peace programme which referred to the creation of an independent Polish state after WWI.

The project's authors from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute (IAM) would like to bring one or several of the selected musicals from the competition to US theatres. They are particularly interested in presenting a musical on the life of Paderewski on Broadway.

According to IAM's Director Krzysztof Olendzki, seven of 40 works selected by US experts have progressed to the third phase of the competition. One of the entries, a 45-minute performance entitled 'Blacksmith' is being presented in New York.

Ellie Heyman, resident director of Joe's Club at New York's Public Theater said that Paderewski wanted to do something for Poland, but people were not entirely sure of what he wanted to achieve. Heyman says that she is obsessed with the fact that Paderewski was referred to as the "blacksmith of the piano" (due to his hammering style of playing). He took on all the pressures of the pain and trauma of his own family and of the difficult political situation, which he eventually turned into music, followed by translating the music into political action.

Ignacy Jan Paderewski was born in 1860 and went on to become Poland's prime minister and foreign minister. On behalf of Poland he signed the Peace Treaty of Versailles at a conference in Paris in 1919. Paderewski was one of the greatest piano virtuosos of the turn of the 20th century, his concerts were avidly received in the U.S.

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