Paderewski became one of Poland’s world renowned pianists and composers. His own compositions are well known, but he was widely praised for his renditions of Chopin. He made his musical debut in Vienna in1887 and soon gained great popularity. His appearances in Paris in 1889, and London in 1890, and in USA in 1891 were major successes. His brilliant playing created a furore which reached to almost extravagant lengths of admiration. His name at once became synonymous with the highest level of piano virtuosity. He delighted the world with his music for over 50 years, and also became one of Poland’s great statesmen.
Two stories about Paderewski are often told.
A much told story involves a young boy. This story has been declared fiction by some, but fact by others, who quote a newspaper report of the time, confirming it. Whether true or not, it has lessons for us.
A mother, wishing to encourage her young son’s progress at piano, took him to a Paderewski concert. They sat near the front and the boy was enthralled with the magnificent Steinway on the stage. The mother talked to some friends next to her and the boy quietly slipped away. When the spotlights came on, the audience quieted, and only then did they notice the boy on the stool, innocently picking out “Twinkle, twinkle, little star”.
Before anyone could do anything, the Master appeared on the stage, quickly moving to the piano. He whispered to the boy “Keep playing. Don’t stop” as his left hand began filling in the base part and his right arm reached round the boy to add a running obligato, and together they held the crowd mesmerised.
As Christians, we should relate to Paderewski.
Firstly, Paderewski could have been angry with the boy, but instead he used the opportunity to instil into the boy a love for music and to encourage and motivate him.
How often do WE use the opportunities God presents to us
to show HIS love and to encourage others?
Are we active in discipling new believers, helping them to mature?
Whether or not this story is true, as Christians, we relate to the little boy.
We do not have much talent, but we do our little bit, and the Master surrounds us and whispers “Keep going. Don’t stop” as HE augments and supplements, empowering and enabling us, until a work of amazing beauty is created – His work, as He chooses to work through us.
Are we allowing Him to work in us and through us,
HIS HAND ON OURS?
Do we “keep going” rejoicing in His service?
We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
1 Corinthians 3:9
We are labourers together with God
It is God who works in you, both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
This second story is believed to be true
Paderewski was asked by a fellow pianist if he could be ready to play a recital at short notice. The famous musician replied, “I am ALWAYS ready. I have practised for eight hours every day for forty years”
The other pianist said “I wish I had been born with such determination” to which Paderewski replied, “We are ALL born with it. I USED mine!”
Are we determined to be the best we can be?
To run the race, to press toward the mark?
Are we determined to strive for excellence in His service?
1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my beloved brethren,
be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
Are we determined to be the person He wants us to be?
In the words of Martha Snell Nicholson:
Lord of the years that are left to me,
I give them to Thy hand.
Take me and break me, and mould me
To the pattern Thou hast planned.