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Published on 1 Feb 2009
Paderewski's Humoresques de Concert Op. 14 was the first piece on a progamme of Polish Romantic piano music performed by British virtuoso Jonathan Plowright in National Gallery of Ireland, in celebration of Polish Independence Day, on 11th November 2007. It starts with the famous Minuet in G.
About this Minuet, musicologist Joseph Herter writes: "During the composers lifetime, its popularity ranked it among the worlds best known and most beloved pieces of classical music. In America, for example, budding young pianists dreamt of the day when they could master the turns and trills and play the work themselves. Even a president of the United States, Harry S. Truman, performed it at the White House during his presidency. A dozen years following the composers death, the minuets fabulous success was still making the charts of all-time disc hits [The New York Times, 22 March 1953]. The magical charm and freshness of Paderewskis composition continue to enchant listeners today, more than a century after it was written. In reality, it is the first movement of a suite of six dances that was published in 1889; the first three, written in neoclassical style, are performed this afternoon.
"In spite of the works gaiety, Paderewskis minuet—combined with his magnetic personality and vibrant patriotism—had a profound impact on people, creating great empathy with Poland during both world wars. This can best be seen in a fan letter written by a Methodist minister after hearing Paderewski play the minuet over the radio. The letter, dated 9 July 1940 and addressed to Paderewski c/o the American Embassy in London, is found in the Paderewski Collection at the Polish National Archives (Archiwum Akt Nowych) in Warsaw":
Dear Sir and Friend:
Quite a number of months ago, when you were in the United States, my family and I had the privilege of hearing you play over the radio that lovely Minuet in G. I am not a professional musician. I do not even know how to play the piano, yet the memory of the beautiful and exquisite way in which you played that number has lingered with me throughout the months. We enjoyed immensely all the other pieces you played that Sunday afternoon, but the Minuet was the best of all.
Ever since that time I have wished to write you just to say to you that you gave my family and me a deep joy and great inspiration with your splendid music that day.
In these dark and troubled days, I know your heart is bowed with deep grief and is perhaps far from your lovely music, but I wanted you to know that we have appreciated your gift of the lovely rendition of that matchless music, and that we are praying for you and your Country that Right shall ultimately prevail, and, that thru all that comes, you and your people shall have the strength of God to bravely and successfully carry on.
Sincerely yours, [signed] Rev. E. J. A. St. Louis Victory Methodist Church Dayton, Ohio