An historic musical review appeared in the Fargo Forum on this day in 1913, for the great Polish pianist Ignace Paderewski had delighted the city’s music lovers the previous evening. Many, even today, consider Paderewski to be one of the greatest pianists that ever lived. Fargo was selected as one of only eighty American cities to host the pianist on his ninth tour of the United States. The musical tour lasted six months, and extended from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific. Paderewski made the tour in a private railcar that housed his own grand piano for practicing.
When Paderewski arrived to Fargo on the morning of December 10, the Forum announced that the engineers and men working in the railroad yard had the privilege to hear the pianist practicing through most of their work day. One engineer remarked, “This engine can work excellently to the tune of that Beethoven concerto. I like it better than the movement of the Liszt rhapsody in E major, which sort of keeps me from throwing off the clutch at the right time.”
Later that evening, listeners from around the state had the pleasure of hearing these same pieces. Spectators completely filled the armory of the North Dakota Agricultural College. Since the Fargo Auditorium was not yet complete, the armory was chosen as the venue for the concert in light of its large occupancy. It was claimed to be the building in Fargo capable of holding the largest amount of people, and yet it was easily filled for the much-anticipated concert. Paderewski performed several selections for the city, including the works of Bach, Beethoven, Liszt, Schumann, Schubert, and Chopin. Several in the audience were especially thrilled by the program, which was the same ensemble used by the pianist for his first Carnegie hall recital in New York City. The group featured several pieces of great technical difficulty, which the famed pianist executed perfectly. Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata proved a favorite to the Fargo crowd, and Paderewski even added three or four encore numbers at the audience’s generous reaction.
In the end, the concert was deemed a great success, both by the audience and managers. The concert had been arranged by A. E. Boehmer of the Dakota Conservatory of Music. The conservatory claimed that the concert was not only a cultural success for the city of Fargo, but also a financial success at the box office.
The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican (Evening ed.). October 6, 1913: p.5.
The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican (Evening ed.). October 11, 1913: p. 1.
The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican (Evening ed.). December 10, 1913: p.1.
The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican (Evening ed.). December 11, 1913: p. 1, 6.
--Jayme L. Job