Paderewski’s film debut: 1937-Personal Retrospective


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I find that, if I relate musical experiences to aspects of my personal life, in the process, both the music and my personal life are enriched. Here is an example. It may not be that meaningful to some, but it will serve as an example to illustrate my point.-Ron Price, Tasmania:cool:


In the year May 1936 to May 1937 the North American Baha’i community inaugurated and formulated its first collective Plan of action, the Seven Year Plan, 1937-1944. Inaugurated in 1936 it was formulated in detail at the National Convention of the Baha’i community in April-May 1937. The film Moonlight Sonata was released in the UK some ten weeks before this Plan began. The film was released in May of 1938 in the USA. Film audiences could now see the presence and hear the mastery of Jan Paderewski: composer, pianist and statesman. His playing had been recorded for posterity and audiences were now offered a visual portrait, a noble study, of the overwhelming confidence and utter simplicity of one of the greatest creative interpreters of Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt. His playing was a example of what was arguably the highest level of piano virtuosity ever achieved. Paderewski’s career is one of the most spectacular in the history of music.1 The following prose-poem links the beginning of the Baha’i teaching Plan and Paderewski’s film debut in what is, for me at least, a fascinating juxtaposition. –Ron Price with thanks to Time Magazine, 27 February 1939.

Such an exquisite lamentation
and oh so quietly—pianissimo1
as humanity was entering outer
fringes of the most perilous stage
of its existence he told us--even then.2

The playing unimaginably precious
immeasurably glorious, like some
holy enterprize, the opportunities
of the hour delicate, calm, stormy,
with a force, concentration, energy,
a determination aiming to attain
exertions’ undreamed of heights.

If Paderewski would only play
that first movement of the
Moonlight Sonata---so went
the film’s narrative line---all
of life’s problems would be solved
--everything would be made right.3

Would to God every State within
the American Republic and every
Republic within the American
continent might embrace this Cause--2
so went the cable’s narrative line---
and the structural basis for a new
World Order would be established.

1 The 1st movement of the Moonlight Sonata is played: very quietly.
2 Shoghi Effendi, "Message to 1936 Convention," Messages to America: 1932-1946, Wilmette, 1947, p. 6. This is the hope, the desire, perhaps even the expectation, of Shoghi Effendi in last sentence of the cable of the Guardian on 1 May 1936.
3 This is the expectation generated as the film, Moonlight Sonata, develops

Ron Price
17-18 June 2007