Ignacy Jan Paderewski ( 18 November [O.S. 6 November] 1860 – 29 June 1941) was a Polish pianist and composer who became a spokesman for Polish independence; in 1919 he was the new nation’s Prime Minister and foreign minister, during which he signed the Treaty of Versailles ending World War I.
A favorite of concert audiences around the world, his musical fame opened access to diplomacy and the media, as possibly did his status as a freemason, and charitable work of his second wife, Helena Paderewska. During World War I, Paderewski advocated an independent Poland, including in the United States, where he met with President Woodrow Wilson, who came to support it. Creation of a Polish state became among Wilson’s Fourteen Points at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, which led to the Treaty of Versailles. Shortly after his resignations from office, Paderewski resumed his concert career to recoup his finances, and rarely visited then-politically chaotic Poland thereafter, the last time in 1924.
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