After a more than six weeks absence, I'm back. I'm going a little out of my usual blog posts to talk some about one of the most famous composers of all time, and my own little Victorian town on the Central Coast of California.
Ignacy Jan Paderewski was born and raised in Poland and became one of the most revered concert pianists of all time. In 1913, however, his worldwide legacy as a pianist ended due to a combination of what we now call tendonitis and arthritis. He was looking for something to heal or help his pain, when his doctors told him of the healing waters of sulphur springs.
In Paso Robles, California, there are many, many underground sulphur springs. Somehow, the Polish doctors had heard of this tiny Victorian town ( not quite so tiny today, just small) and told Paderewski he must go at once to La Ciudad de El Paso de Robles, in the United States.
Paderewski arrived here fron San Francisco on January 17, 1913, in his own private rail car. Citizens from all over came to greet him, as most had not only heard and loved his music, but many played his concertos and solos themselves. Doctors here began his treatments with the sulphur waters, and amazingly, his hands began to heal.
Through the years, even though he began to tour again, he made Paso Robles his home, and even began buying thousands of acres here to become a "gentleman rancher." The main contribution he made to this town was the fostering of the great Zinfandel grape varietal, for which our town has become very famous.
Paderewski decried the terrible things that were happening in Poland during those years, and did not return to Poland until 1918, when the Versailles Treaty returned Poland to an independent country. He became the First Prime Minister of the Independent Poland until 1922, when he resigned and returned to international concert touring. He died in New York in 1941 and was temporarily buried at Arlington National Cemetery. In 1992 his body was returned to Poland, where it now lies in the Royal Crypt of the Warsaw Cathedral.
From 1913 until 1941, he returned often to Paso Robles. He owned two ranches with land that covered three miles east to west and four miles north to south, most of it planted in Zinfandel grapes. He was a highly respected and beloved member of this town.
In 1991, the Paso Robles town fathers decided to have a Paderewski Festival, highlighting his life and his music. Next Thursday, November 8th, El Paso de Robles ( the Pass of the Oaks) will begin celebrating four days of the life and musical heritage of Ignacy Jan Paderewski in our 21st annual Paderewski Festival. At 12:30 on Saturday, November 10th, there will be an unveiling of a life-sized statue of Paderewski which will stand in our City Park near our historic Carnegie Library Museum.
At 4:00pm on Saturday we will host the Paderewski Youth Piano Competition Recital.
We will have several Dignitaries representing the Republic of Poland staying here for the entire festival.
From a tiny Victorian town, once nothing more than a rest stop for weary stage coach travelers along the Camino Real Trail, to a small Victorian town now world-renown for Paderewski and Zinfandel wine, El Paso de Robles has come a long way! We've only lived here 11 years, but we love this town and the great community spirit everyone here has. We are proud to live here and be a part of the "music and wine" heritage Paderewski left behind.
Until next time,
That's a wrap.