The Raleigh-based Paderewski Festival has returned for its second annual installment, launched Nov. 10 with an informative lecture, a bit of music from an old master, and a gala reception, all given in the intimate confines of the Raleigh City Museum. Artists, directors, and festival coordinators were on hand as Dr. Alvin M. Fountain, whose titles include Honorary Cousul, Republic of Poland, spoke of Jan Ignacy Paderewski (1860-1941) (who performed three times in Raleigh and once in Durham) and his teacher Theodor Leschetizky (1830-1915) (whose students also included Artur Schnabel, Mieczysław Horszowski, and Paul Wittgenstein – for whom Ravel and many others wrote concerti).
Leschetizky was one of the greatest teachers of all time, credited with over 1,200 students, students who in turn taught other pianists who also taught, and whose grand-pupils and great-grand-pupils still enrich concert stages today. (The family tree of students was one of the evening's most astounding exhibits.)
Leschetitzky could also play, of course, and one performance by him – a Chopin nocturne (Op. 27/2), taken from a 1906 piano roll available on YouTube here – was heard at the museum. This is one of a dozen rolls cut by the master at the end of his life, some 13 years after he retired from public performances. (It has some idiomatic moments, of course, but overall it sounds a good deal more straightforward than one might have imagined.)
In the discussion of Leschetizky, Fountain was assisted by the distinguished scholar Adam Wibrowski, artistic director of the festival, who spoke warmly and with apparent love about the artist and the astonishing performance tradition that he fostered and helped perpetuate.
The evening also highlighted the week's forthcoming programs, slated for Thursday evening at St. Mary's, Friday evening at the Cary Arts Center, and matinees on Saturday and Sunday at the NC Museum of Art, plus a master class at 11 a.m. Friday at Meredith. For details and programs, click the links below.