Pandolfi and Hecht to Recreate Historic Concert at the Sembrich
On July 31, 1914, Imperial Germany ordered its reserve soldiers and officers to report for duty, and within a few days, Germany and its ally, the empire of Austria-Hungary, were officially at war with Russia, France and Great Britain.
To commemorate the outbreak of the war, and the unfolding of the events that ultimately led Marcella Sembrich to Lake George, the Sembrich will present a recital by pianist Thomas Pandolfi entitled “The Eve of War” on July 31 of this year.
The program replicates one presented by the Polish pianist Ignacy Paderewski at Carnegie Hall as a benefit for the war’s Polish victims in 1914.
According to Richard Wargo, the Sembrich’s artistic director, July 31 was selected as the date for Pandolfi’s concert not only because it commemorates Germany’s call to arms but also because July 31 was Paderewski’s name day.
In fact, Wargo says, July 31 was a momentous day in Sembrich’s own life.
On July 31, 1914, Sembrich and William Stengel, her husband and manager, left their home in the south of France for what they expected to be a brief visit to Paderewski’s villa in Switzerland to help celebrate his name day.
History, however, intervened, says Wargo.
“Sembrich and her husband, who were Polish subjects who held German passports, were unable to return to France. They remained stranded and in peril for some months,” Wargo recounts.
The nationalists who were subjects of the empire of Austria-Hungary before the war and the founders of the independent, Central European republics afterward, began migrating to Great Britain and the United States, Sembrich and Paderewski among them.
“The summer of 1914 marked a turning point in the life of Marcella Sembrich,” said Wargo. “With the outset of hostilities, separated from family, friends and country, Sembrich found comfort and consolation in the mountains and lakes of the Adirondacks. Eventually, the soprano came to settle on a fourteen-acre estate on Lake George. Were it not for the momentous events of the summer of 1914, the Sembrich Museum might never have come into existence.”
Pandolfi’s “The Eve of War” recital will feature Bach’s Chaconne in D minor, Beethoven’s “Pathetique” Sonata, Schumann’s Romance in F-sharp Major, a set of works by Chopin and additional pieces by Schubert, Rubinstein, Debussy, Ravel and Paderewski himself.
“I’m honored to share some of the cornerstones from the repertoire of one of the greatest and most celebrated pianists who ever lived,” said Pandolfi, who has performed at The Sembrich twice before.
“Paderewski was not only a great musician, but also a statesman and as the first Prime Minister of post-war independent Poland, a Polish hero,” said Pandolfi.
Pandolfi will be joined on July 31 by New York actor Paul Hecht, who will read from Paderewski’s own account of the July 31 name-day party.
“Paderewski’s vivid recollections of that evening, from the pall that overshadowed the festivities to the forced departure of guests and servants called into military service, amounts to something of a play-by-play of that momentous night,” said Wargo. “It’s an appropriate way to commemorate not only an important event in world history, but an essential chapter of our history as The Sembrich.”
“The Eve of War” starts at 7:30 pm. Tickets, which are $50 apiece, may be reserved by calling The Sembrich’s administrative offices at 664-2431.