Piano Technique and Education with Ignace Jan Paderewski


Ignace Jan Paderewski is one of today's perfect and master pianists.

Those who had the privilege of watching his first season concerts in America had a musical experience that can never be erased from their minds.

The Polish artist conquered both the new and the old world, became a king respected and loved by all segments, and traveled all over America from coast to coast.

Each visit carried the admiration for his art to deeper dimensions.

The first messenger before he set foot on American soil was his picture, which was posted at Steinway Hall and in several music stores - the famous painting with dense blond hair, otherwise no one knew much about him.

On November 17, 1891, he made his debut at Carnegie Hall with the New York Symphony Orchestra under Walter Damrosch. It was an unforgettable evening.

A very distinguished crowd, led by the leaders of the music and art world, filled the hall.

The program started with Karl Goldmark's overture called “Spring Time”.

The conductor's table was pulled up next to the piano and the new artist was expected to take the stage.

And then.. Paderewski appeared on stage.. There was a big round of applause.

He sat down at the piano, eyes on the conductor, ready for Saint-Saens' concerto in G minor.

Paderewski always used a low piano chair. It made him look smaller than he actually was.

When the piano score started, it became clear what a masterful virtuoso he was. His soulful intonations, his warm and lively playing, his going from the calmest pianissimo to the stormy fortissimo, and in doing so, far from harsh…

People listened almost without breathing. Chopin solo works were played at the end of the concerto.

Could there have been a better choice as a Polish?

The audience was once again mesmerized by the unheard-of tonal effects.

The concert was over, but the audience's applause did not cease. Paderewski played Liszt's second Hungarian rhapsody for the ens – a performance I had never heard before. An amazing virtuoso and talent!

The next day, all the headlines were about him. Critics praised the magnificent colors in the artist's performance, but could not fit him into the sky.

Paderewski's New York recitals were amazing experiences for me. I lived and kept them with the meticulousness of a collector.

Whenever he played, it created a tremendous silence on the audience. All attention, almost without breathing, was on the Polish virtuoso.

A genius for interpretation and technique? Certainly. This genius knew Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann and Liszt as himself.

There was an undoubted fact for all the audience: It was the artist's inimitable tone, color and variety.

Schumann's Papillons or Chopin's Nocturnes.. It was like a love poem.

Paderewski, like Rubinstein, showed us that the piano can speak elegantly and powerfully. That this could be done a little better technically!

Paderewski was both a pianist and a composer. He used to give piano lessons whenever his time allowed.

mmm. Antoinette Szumowska [1868-1938], Polish pianist and teacher, was Padeweski's only student for a term. Another Polish pianist and composer, Mr. Sigismond Stojowski [1869-1946] had the chance to work with the master.

Both pianists had learned very well the value of Paderewski as an instructor.

Madame Szumowska:

Paderewski was very meticulous about playing legota. He wanted the works to be done at a very slow pace, emphasizing the importance of catching a deep, clean and full tone.

He would use a different exercise for strength gain. He would place his hand on the keyboard, keeping the wrist quite low. Then, without moving his wrist, he would press the keys very hard with each finger, making the loudest sound possible.

He would recommend playing scales and arpeggios with emphasis. For example, emphasizing every third note. In this way, an even touch could be achieved.

He would train the double, triple and quintuple passages separately and legato. Octaves should be practiced with a low wrist position and a staccato touch. Only thumbs could be used for warming up. The thumb should always be curved. The joints are curved outward. Keys should be touched with fingertips. In this way, it was in line with the other fingers. Paderewski was very careful at this point.

He preferred to provide the colors and warmth that can be captured in intonation, not only with the touch, but also with the skillful use of the pedal.

My lessons with Paderewski took place at irregular times. There were days when we started at 22:00 in the evening and finished at 01:00 at midnight.

His warnings were clear and sincere. He would steal and show the problems himself. There was no sense of time.

Mr. Stojowski describes his work with Paderewski as follows:

Paderewski was an amazing instructor. Today's teachers tried to explain to their students things that they themselves did not understand or could not do. Another group could perform these difficult techniques, but failed to explain them to their student.

Paderewski was accomplished, relaxed and expert in both subjects.

He would make the student listen to his playing on intonation, train his ear and ensure success in performance.

First principle: Clarity

It was important for the pianist to sit at the piano with his enthusiasm for making music. He would like to hear the effects with a clear intonation. Diversity in sound was very important.

He would then show how to achieve this. Hands.. Fingers should be tight and firm.

Czerny Op. We used to work 740. Sitting low was essential in order to be able to play by putting his weight on the keys.

Gradus of Celementi. Scales and Arpeggios. He used to say that choosing arpeggios from among the works was more valuable.

Paderewski had worked with Leschetizky. He used to tell his teachings to his students. He used it in his classes.

Finger Numbers

Paderewski was very precise with finger numbers. Appropriate numbers should be chosen at the beginning of the piece and work should be continued by adhering to these numbers.

Two factors were important to him:

  1. The numbers are suitable for the hand
  2. Selection of the most effective fingers for long-term performance

According to him, different tones were hidden in each finger. We were studying Chopin's nocturnes once. He was listening to me from a distant room. He called out, “Why do you use your fourth finger for that note every time? I can hear it and it doesn't sound good!”

He was a very good observer. No detail could go unnoticed.

Right Movement

It was important for Paderewski that unnecessary movements were not made and that the whole body was comfortable and soft during the performance. The movements had to be studied and observed as carefully as the technical exercises. It was true that he was very fast. Raising his hand for a staccato, he would have reached the octave needed to continue the piece in a blink of an eye.

Effects and tones

Tone reproduction naturally differs depending on the medium to be played. In a large hall, more force is required.

In order to be accustomed to these situations, it will be useful to have the lid of the piano working in the studio closed.


A difficult piece performed by a successful pianist can be considered perfect when it looks like a spontaneous improvisation. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to master and work on all the details of the work.

After a recital, one of the female audience members says to herself:

“Mr Paderewski, why did you interpret it so differently than I heard it at your previous recital?”

Paderewsk: “That was my intention”


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