Even more than in Morges and Vevey, Ignacy Paderewski displayed his talent in the concert halls of Lausanne during his « Swiss Years ». Enthralled audiences first discovered the young prodigy at fabulous concerts on tour, and then as a neighbour, friend and near-fellow countryman when he settled in Morges in 1897, still a great artist yet accessible, who devoted himself unreservedly to just causes – such as giving concerts at the Cathedral in favour of people in need. Lausanne also witnessed a powerful message received in 1933 from the President of the Swiss Confederation himself, who officially welcomed Paderewski as « one of his country’s children ». The beautiful concert hall at the Casino de Montbenon, which the City named after him in 1981, maintains this memory.
« One of Switzerland’s children »
The President of the Swiss Confederation Edmund Schulthess said to Ignacy Paderewski on 8th July 1933: « My country bestows neither order nor honour; it shows beloved guests sympathy and gratefulness in a much humbler fashion, welcoming them as if they were its own children. This is what the capital of the Vaud Canton did by rewarding you with Honorary Citizenship. This distinction is the only one Switzerland can offer. It may not shine as brightly as other honours bestowed upon you in the course of your great career. But it genuinely epitomizes our deep friendship and admiration. »
Farewell to Switzerland
Ignacy Paderewski’s legendary speech broadcast by Radio-Lausanne remains a moment of history engraved in the memory of radio waves and in the mind of all who were listening to their radio set on 29th September 1940, the day Ignacy Paderewski addressed an « official » farewell to Switzerland, his second homeland. Vibrant words that echoed like a declaration of love before he left for the United States amidst the chaos of war, unaware there would be no return voyage...
« My dear listeners... »
« My dear listeners, I think with great emotion of the time when these few words shall reach you. I would like my address to contain nothing but the expression of my faithful endearment to your beautiful and noble country, nothing but my gratefulness for the generous hospitality that made me feel so welcome during many years. May God protect you, my dear friends. May He allow your country to be safe and at peace. I am convinced that your deep fondness for your beautiful and noble homeland traditions, which in your country are akin to freedom and respect for human beings, will always guide your steps. »