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When the young American composer Daniel Gregory Mason came to Boston to interview thegreat pianist and composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski , there was trouble from the start.
Because of a misunderstanding Mason was two-and-a-half hours late for his meeting with thegreat pianist. Mason was waiting in the hotel lobby while Paderewski was upstairs, getting moreand more aggravated by Mason’s tardiness. Finally Mason went up to see Paderewski andfound him cordial enough, but Paderewski’s wife was cold and standoffish. Mason felt awkwardand self-conscious. He complimented Paderewski on his “Variations and Fugue on an OriginalTheme.” Then he added: “Just so you don’t think that’s empty flattery, I’ll tell you frankly thatI do not care so much for some of your early pieces.”
Paderewski’s wife gave Mason a stony look. “What pieces? What do you not care for?”
Mason got in deeper. “Well, for example, I do not care so much for the ‘A Minor Concerto’.”
Her gaze was unwavering . “The concerto is one of my favorites among my husband’scompositions. I love it more and more.”
Valiantly , Mason complimented Paderewski’s use of French impressionism.
Now Paderewski himself spoke. “I utterly repudiate any debt to French impressionism. I do notbelieve in the modern French school, because it is not founded in tradition. It is erratic,bizarre, wayward. ”
At last Mason ventured to show Paderewski a movement of his new violin sonata. Paderewskishook hands with him about eight times as he read through the sonata, singing the melodyand exclaiming “beautiful!” Finally, with his music, Daniel Gregory Mason had won over themaster.